Understanding the Mechanism of Homologous Recombination in Mycobacterium Tuberculosis : Exploring RecA as an Antibacterial Target and Characterization of Holliday Junction Resolvases
Homologous recombination (HR) is conserved across all three domains of life and is associated with a number of key biological processes. Over the years, numerous genetic, biochemical and structural studies have uncovered important mechanistic details and established a role for HR in DNA damage repair, control of DNA replication fidelity and suppression of various types of cancer. Much of our current understanding of the mechanistic aspects of HR is gained from the study of Escherichia coli paradigm. E. coli RecA is the founding member of a nearly ubiquitous family of multifunctional proteins and is substantially conserved among eubacterial species. During HR, RecA protein promotes homologous pairing followed by strand exchange reaction leading to heteroduplex formation. In addition to HR, RecA is a central component of SOS response, recombinational DNA repair and rescue of collapsed replications forks. Moreover, recent work has suggested that DNA recombination/repair mechanisms might contribute to genome evolution and consequently to the generation of multidrug-resistant strains of the pathogen. The disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, endemic in certain regions of the world, is a leading cause of disability and death. A thorough knowledge of the function and interaction of specific HR proteins/enzymes involved in the maintenance of genome integrity is essential in order to elucidate the impact of genome perturbation effects on M. tuberculosis. Toward this end, modulation of RecA protein activity, a central component of HR, represents a potential novel target for design of new drugs because of its involvement in various processes of DNA metabolism. Additionally, small molecule modulators of RecA activity may offer novel insights into the regulation and its role in cellular physiology and pathology. Traditionally, antibiotics have been used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Despite their importance, the development of new antibiotics against M. tuberculosis has considerably decreased over the past several years due to disappointing results in clinical trials. These failures may be due the fact that they suffer from low potency or low cell permeability. Therefore, one of the aims of studies described in this thesis was to test the effect of suramin, a known inhibitor of E. coli RecA, on various biochemical activities of mycobacterial RecA proteins and determine its mechanism of action. Furthermore, the most crucial step in the HR pathway and rescue of collapsed DNA replication forks is the resolution of Holliday junctions and other branched intermediates. Because Holliday junction resolvases are essential for the resolution of different types of DNA recombination/repair intermediates, therefore, we considered it worthwhile to study the genomic expression and biochemical properties of HJRs in M. tuberculosis. Suramin is a commonly used antitrypanosomal and antifiliarial drug, and a novel experimental agent for the treatment of several cancers. A forward chemical screen assay identified several small molecule inhibitors of E. coli RecA. In this screen, suramin (also called germanin), a polysulfonated naphthylurea, and suramin-like agents were found to inhibit EcRecA catalyzed ATPase and DNA strand exchange activity. However, the mechanism underlying such inhibitory action of suramin and whether it can exert antibacterial activity under in vivo conditions remains largely unknown. In an attempt to delineate the range of suramin action, we reasoned that it might be useful to test its effect on mycobacterium RecA proteins. We found that suramin is a potent inhibitor of all known biochemical activities of mycobacterial RecA proteins with IC50 values in the low μM range. The mechanism of action involves, in part, its ability to disassemble the nucleoprotein filaments of RecA-ssDNA. To validate the above results and to obtain quantitative data, a pull-down assay was developed to assess the effect of suramin on RecA–ssDNA filaments. The data indicated that suramin was able to dissociate >80% of RecA bound to ssDNA. Altogether, these results indicated the effectiveness of suramin in the disassembly of RecA nucleoprotein filament. Next, we sought to test whether suramin binds to RecA by using a CD spectropolarimeter. Significant spectral changes were observed upon addition of increasing concentrations of suramin, indicating alterations in the secondary structure of RecA protein. Additional evidence revealed that suramin impaired RecA catalyzed proteolytic cleavage of LexA repressor and blocked ciprofloxacin-inducible recA gene expression and SOS response. More importantly, suramin potentiated the cidal action of ciprofloxacin and reduced the growth of Mycobacterium smegmatis recA+ strain but not its isogenic recA∆ mutant, consistent with the idea that it acts directly on RecA protein. This approach, which appears as an appealing concept, opens up new possibilities to chemically disrupt the pathways controlled by RecA and treat drug-sensitive as well as drug-resistant strains of M. tuberculosis for better infection control and the development of new therapies. The annotated genome sequence of M. tuberculosis revealed the presence of putative homologues of E. coli DNA recombination/repair genes. However, it is unknown whether these putative genes have the ability to encode catalytically active proteins or participate in biochemical reactions intrinsic to the process of HR or DNA repair. Studies in the second half of the thesis originated from an in silico analysis for genes that encode functional equivalents of E. coli RuvC HJ resolvase(s) in M. tuberculosis. The central intermediate formed during mitotic and meiotic recombination is a four-way DNA junction, also known as the Holliday junction (HJ), and its efficient resolution is essential for proper segregation of chromosomes. The resolution of HJ is mediated by a group of structure specific endonucleases known as the Holliday junction resolvases (HJR) which have been identified in a wide variety of organisms based on their shared biochemical characteristics. Bioinformatics analyses of the evolutionary relationships among HJ resolvases suggests that HJR function has arisen independently from four distinct structural folds, namely RNase H, endonuclease VII-colicin E, endonuclease and RusA. Furthermore, similar analyses of HJRs identified another family within the RNaseH fold, along with previously characterized RuvC family of junction resolvases. This new family of putative HJRs is typified by E. coli Yqgf protein. The yqgf gene is highly conserved among bacterial genomes. Nuclear magnetic resonance structural studies have disclosed notable structural similarities between E. coli RuvC and YqgF proteins. Utilizing homology-based molecular modelling, YqgF is predicted to function as a nuclease in various aspects of nucleic acid metabolism. Sequence analysis of M. tuberculosis genome has revealed the presence of two putative HJ resolvases, ruvC (Rv2594c) and ruvX (Rv2554c, yqgF homolog). Previous studies have demonstrated that M. tuberculosis ruvC is induced following DNA damage and ruvX is expressed during active growth phase of M. tuberculosis. More importantly, the absence of ruvC increased the potency of moxifloxacin in M. smegmatis. Although, these results imply that the ruv genes play crucial roles in DNA recombination and repair in M. tuberculosis, the biochemical properties of their gene products have not been characterized. In this study, we have isolated M. tuberculosis ruvC and yqgF genes and purified their encoded proteins, M. tuberculosis RuvC (MtRuvC) and M. tuberculosis RuvX (MtRuvX), respectively, to near homogeneity. Protein-DNA interaction assays conducted with purified MtRuvC and MtRuvX revealed that both can bind HJ, albeit with different affinities. However, in contrast to MtRuvC, MtRuvX showed robust HJ resolvase activity. The endonuclease activity of MtRuvX was completely dependent on Mg2+and Mn2+ partially substituted for Mg2+. Additional experiments showed that RuvX exhibits >2-fold higher binding affinity for HJ over other recombination/ replication intermediates. As demonstrated for other HJRs, MtRuvX failed to cleave static HJ and linear duplex DNA. The cleavage sites were mapped within the homologous core of a branch-migratable HJ. To identify catalytic residues in RuvX, we conducted mutational analysis of an acidic amino acid residue guided by the bioinformatics data. The product of MtRuvXD28N retained full HJ-binding activity, but showed extremely reduced HJ-specific endonuclease activity. Further biochemical characterization revealed that MtRuvX exists as a homodimer in solution. Notably, we found that disulfide-bond mediated intermolecular homodimerization is crucial for the ability of MtRuvX to cleave Holliday junctions, implicating that stable junction binding is necessary to promote branch migration and to create cleavable sites. Analysis of qPCR data suggested that the pattern of yqgF gene expression was similar to those of ruvC and recA genes following DNA damage. Together, these data indicate that ruvX expression is induced by DNA-damaging agents and that RuvX might be functionally involved in recombinational DNA repair in M. tuberculosis. These findings are all consistent with the idea that RuvX might be the bona fide HJ resolvase in M. tuberculosis analogous to that of E. coli RuvC. More importantly, we provide the first detailed characterization of RuvX and present important insights into the mechanism of HJ resolution, which could be directly linked to the regulation of different DNA metabolic processes, including HR, DNA replication and DNA repair. Overall, this study opens a new avenue in the understanding of HR in this human pathogen, together with elucidation of the function of some of the uncharacterized genes may represent a novel set of recombination enzymes.
- Biochemistry (BC)