Elucidating the Role of MsRbpA in Rifampicin Tolerance and Transcription Regulation of Mycobacterium Smegmatis
Verma, Amit Kumar
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RNA polymerase binding protein A (RbpA) was first discovered as a RNA polymerase binding protein from Streptomyces. coelicolor. It was shown to cause rifampicin tolerance to RNA polymerase in vitro and leads to basal level of rifampicin resistance in vivo. This protein is exclusively present in the actinobacteria family with the nearest neighbour in mycobacteria. When null mutant of RbpA in S. coelicolor were transformed with the rbpA gene from Mycobacterium tuberculosis the resistance level of rifampicin increased from 0.75 µgml-1 to 2 µg ml-1 suggesting analogous role of MtbRbpA (RbpA from M. tuberculosis). MsRbpA, RbpA from Mycobacterium smegmatis was found to interact with the β-subunit of RNAP and its binding location on M. smegmatis RNAP was shown to be 18 Å from the (i+1) site. MsRbpA was also shown to rescue the inhibitory effect of rifampicin in vitro. Furthermore, overexpression of MsRbpA in wild type M. smegmatis resulted in the increase in the MIC of rifampicin to 85 µg ml-1 from 20 µg ml-1, which is the MIC of rifampicin for the wild type M. smegmatis. On the other hand, MsRbpA was unable to augment transcription in the presence of rifampicin when the reaction was catalysed by rifampicin resistant RNAP. Recent reports have shown that MtbRbpA enhances the affinity σA to core RNAP thereby activates transcription. The N and C-termini of MtbRbpA interact with σA while the C-terminal region of MtbRbpA is required for the oligomerisation of MtbRbpA. However M. tuberculosis and S. coleicolor are part of same family actinobacteria, RbpA is essential for the former while it is dispensable in the later case.This work focuses on characterisation of rifampicin resistant RNAP from M. smegmatis and elaborates on the roles played by MsRbpA. These include its effect on transcription activation, transcription rescue, its role in RNAP promoter closed and open complex formation, characterisation of its site of interaction with RNAP and σA, finding critical functional residues and establishing the essentiality of MsRbpA in M. smegmatis. Chapter 1 deals with the literature survey on structure of bacterial RNAP, promoters, sigma factors, RNAP inhibitors, transcriptional activators with the emphasis on the Mycobacteria. Chapter 2 summarises the identification of the mutations in rpoB gene from the rifampicin resistant (RifR) mutant strains of M. smegmatis, purification of RNAP from these strain, determining IC50 values of these RifR RNAP for rifampicin, finding kinetic parameters for the interaction of RifR RNAP with 3-formyl rifampicin and evaluating their interaction with MsRbpA. Chapter 3 describes the function of MsRbpA in transcription initiation, particularly its role in RNAP-promoter closed and open complex formation. Furthermore, this chapter throws light on the role of MsRbpA in transcription activation vis a vis its effects on transcription rescue from the inhibitory effect of rifampicin. Chapter 4 elucidates the function of a segment of MsRbpA from Arg58 to Lys 73 in activation of transcription activity, transcription rescue from the inhibitory effect of rifampicin and its interaction with σA and core RNAP. Furthermore, the alanine scanning of the region and subsequent in vitro transcription studies revealed four important residues required for MsRbpA functions. Chapter 5 describes the generation of conditional knock down strain of MsRbpA in M. smegmatis and establishing its essentiality. Chapter 6 summarizes the work documented in the thesis.
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