Molecular Characterisation Of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Fic Protein And Its Gene And Identification And Characterisation Of A Novel Functional Interaction Between FtsZ And NDK in Mycobacteria
Living organisms employ different kinds of mechanisms, to regulate the functions of genes or their products, which may help in maintaining homeostasis inside the cell or may help in fighting hostile environment in the case of pathogenic organisms. These mechanisms act at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional, translational, and post-translational levels. In order to understand the physiology of an organism, it is essential to obtain an in-depth knowledge of such mechanisms, in which several proteins participate in interlinked pathways. In this regard, the present study focuses on two such proteins: (i). the newly identified Fic (Filamentation induced by cAMP) protein; and (ii). NDK (Nucleoside Diphosphate Kinase), which had been studied for decades. Fic protein and NDK share several common features: (i). both use nucleoside triphosphate (NTPs) or nucleoside diphosphate (NDPs) or their derivatives as one of their substrates; (ii). they have been found to be involved in diverse cellular pathways, involving different types of substrates that form the second substrate of these proteins; (iii). both are ubiquitously present in all the living organisms - from bacteria to humans to plants. However, there is very little information on these proteins from mycobacterial systems, which include some major human pathogens, Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae, which are the causative agents of Tuberculosis and Leprosy, respectively. In view of these reasons, in the present study, the structural and/or functional features of the Fic and NDK proteins from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, were analysed, as it might be of medical significance for effectively combating the pathogen. The Chapter 1 of the thesis contains the Introduction to the research work and Chapter 2 is on the overall Materials and Methods. The remaining chapters pertain to the data obtained on the structural and/or functional features of the Fic and NDK proteins from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Chapter 3. Cloning, Expression and Purification of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Fic The role of FIC (Filamentation induced by cAMP) domain containing proteins in the regulation of many vital pathways, mostly through the transfer of NMPs from NTPs to specific target proteins (NMPylylation), in microorganisms, higher eukaryotes, and plants is emerging. In order to understand the biological role of FIC domain containing proteins in mycobacteria, the gene for the FIC domain containing protein of the human pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, MtuFic, was cloned, overexpressed, purified to homogeneity, and biochemically characterised. Neither the His-tagged nor the GST-tagged MtuFic protein, overexpressed in Escherichia coli, nor expression of Mtufic in Mycobacterium smegmatis, yielded the protein in the soluble fraction. However, the maltose binding protein (MBP) tagged MtuFic (MBP-MtuFic) could be obtained partly in the soluble fraction. Denatured-refolded protein was used for the antibody generation in mice and rabbit. The cellular localisation and secretion of MtuFic were characterised using the antibody. Chapter 4. Biochemical Characterisation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Fic Sequence alignment with several FIC motif containing proteins, complemented with homology modeling on the FIC motif containing protein, VbhT of Bartonella schoenbuchensis as the template, showed conservation and interaction of residues constituting the FIC domain. MtuFic, possesses the critical His144 residue, in the characteristic FIC Motif, HPFREGNGRSTR (HPFxxGNGRxxR), spanning 144th to 155th residue. Site-specific mutagenesis of the His144, or Glu148, or Asn150 of the FIC motif, or of Arg87 residue that constitutes the FIC domain, or complete deletion of the FIC motif, abolished the NTP to NMP conversion activity. The activity of MtuFic was consistent with the biochemical activities hitherto reported for a variety of bacterial FIC domain containing proteins. Studies were also carried out on NMPylylation in the presence of eukaryotic proteins and eukaryotic and mycobacterial cell lysates. Although formation of NMPs from NTPs mediated by MBP-MtuFic could be detected, we could not identify any protein as the target substrate either in the human macrophage (THP1) cells or in the M. tuberculosis cells. VopSΔ30 (kind gift from Dr. Kim Orth), along with human G proteins as targets, were used as the positive controls. Various possibilities for the inability to detect a protein target substrate are discussed. Chapter 5. Transcriptional Analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis fic Gene (Mtufic) In parallel, in order to understand the transcriptional regulation of Mtufic, primer extension analysis was carried out. The Transcription Start Site (TSS; +1 site) of Mtufic were mapped under different growth/stress conditions, which tubercle bacilli encounter in human host. Mtufic got expressed mainly through two transcripts, T1 and T2, arising from two different transcription start sites (TSS). Putative promoter regions were cloned in a promoter probe vector, which expresses a GFP protein of very high intensity, in order to qualitatively detect the activity of the promoters. The half-life of the gfp mRNA was determined to be 4 min and therefore justifiably quantitated the Mtufic promoter activity by determining the gfp mRNA levels. The levels of Mtufic mRNA were two-fold higher under nutrient-depleted stationary phase of growth, as compared to the levels at mid-log phase. The activity of P1 and P2, as quantitated real-time using the short half-life gfpm2+ mRNA levels in Mycobacterium smegmatis transformants, showed that the activity of P2 was upregulated two-fold under nutrient-depleted stationary phase of growth, while that of P1 remained unaltered while of P1 and P2 were low under hypoxia. Co-transcription of Mtufic, with the immediate upstream gene, Rv3642c, of unknown function, was observed. Taken together, the data strongly indicated that the expression of Mtufic gets altered under nutrient-depleted and hypoxic conditions, which are the stress conditions experienced by tubercle bacilli in granuloma in tuberculosis patients. Chapter 6. Functional Characterisation of Mycobacterial FtsZ-NDK Interaction During the past few decades, our laboratory has been carrying out extensive molecular and functional studies on the cytokinetic protein, FtsZ, of different mycobacterial species, and of a variety of other mycobacterial proteins that are believed to be interacting with the cell division machinery. In this regard, in parallel to the work on MtuFic, we carried out work on the identification and characterisation of the proteins that interact with mycobacterial FtsZ. In this context, we found for the first time that the nucleoside diphosphate kinase (NDK), which can generate NTPs from ATP/GTP and NDPs, interacts with FtsZ and that the interaction was conserved across several mycobacterial species. Therefore, the FtsZ-NDK interaction was extensively characterised in vitro, using the recombinant, purified FtsZ and NDK proteins from different mycobacterial species. This novel finding on the interaction of NDK with FtsZ adds another role to NDK, namely in bacterial cell division.
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