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The Helicobacter pylori babA gene encodes an outer membrane protein that mediates binding to fucosylated ABH antigens of the ABO blood group. We recently demonstrated that BabA expression is lost during experimental infection of rhesus macaques with H. pylori J166. We sought to test the generality of this observation by comparison of different H. pylori strains and different animal hosts. Challenge of macaques with H. pylori J99 yielded output strains that lost BabA expression, either by selection and then expansion of a subpopulation of J99 that had a single-base-pair mutation that encoded a stop codon or by gene conversion of babA with a duplicate copy of babB, a paralog of unknown function. Challenge of mice with H. pylori J166, which unlike J99, has 5' CT repeats in babA, resulted in loss of BabA expression due to phase variation. In the gerbil, Leb binding was lost by replacement of the babA gene that encoded Leb binding with a nonbinding allele that differed at six amino acid residues. Complementation experiments confirmed that change in these six amino acids of BabA was sufficient to eliminate binding to Leb and to gastric tissue. These results demonstrate that BabA expression in vivo is highly dynamic, and the findings implicate specific amino acid residues as critical for binding to fucosylated ABH antigens. We hypothesize that modification of BabA expression during H. pylori infection is a mechanism to adapt to changing conditions of inflammation and glycan expression at the epithelial surface.
The oxysterol binding protein homologue Kes1p has been implicated in nonvesicular sterol transport in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Kes1p also represses formation of protein transport vesicles from the trans-Golgi network (TGN) through an unknown mechanism. Here, we show that potential phospholipid translocases in the Drs2/Dnf family (type IV P-type ATPases [P4-ATPases]) are downstream targets of Kes1p repression. Disruption of KES1 suppresses the cold-sensitive (cs) growth defect of drs2Delta, which correlates with an enhanced ability of Dnf P4-ATPases to functionally substitute for Drs2p. Loss of Kes1p also suppresses a drs2-ts allele in a strain deficient for Dnf P4-ATPases, suggesting that Kes1p antagonizes Drs2p activity in vivo. Indeed, Drs2-dependent phosphatidylserine translocase (flippase) activity is hyperactive in TGN membranes from kes1Delta cells and is potently attenuated by addition of recombinant Kes1p. Surprisingly, Drs2p also antagonizes Kes1p activity in vivo. Drs2p deficiency causes a markedly increased rate of cholesterol transport from the plasma membrane to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and redistribution of endogenous ergosterol to intracellular membranes, phenotypes that are Kes1p dependent. These data suggest a homeostatic feedback mechanism in which appropriately regulated flippase activity in the Golgi complex helps establish a plasma membrane phospholipid organization that resists sterol extraction by a sterol binding protein.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug. Although there is some indication that reproductive functions in males are impaired in chronic marijuana users, the genetic evidence and underlying causes remain largely unknown. Herein we show that genetic loss of Faah, which encodes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), results in elevated levels of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, in the male reproductive system, leading to compromised fertilizing capacity of sperm. This defect is rescued by superimposing deletion of cannabinoid receptor 1 (Cnr1). Retention of Faah(-/-) sperm on the egg zona pellucida provides evidence that the capacity of sperm to penetrate the zona barrier is hampered by elevated anandamide levels. Collectively, the results show that aberrant endocannabinoid signaling via CNR1 impairs normal sperm function. Besides unveiling a new regulatory mechanism of sperm function, this study has clinical significance in male fertility.
Mutation of sarA in Staphylococcus aureus results in a reduced capacity to form a biofilm, but the mechanistic basis for this remains unknown. Previous transcriptional profiling experiments identified a number of genes that are differentially expressed both in a biofilm and in a sarA mutant. This included genes involved in acid tolerance and the production of nucleolytic and proteolytic exoenzymes. Based on this we generated mutations in alsSD, nuc and sspA in the S. aureus clinical isolate UAMS-1 and its isogenic sarA mutant and assessed the impact on biofilm formation. Because expression of alsSD was increased in a biofilm but decreased in a sarA mutant, we also generated a plasmid construct that allowed expression of alsSD in a sarA mutant. Mutation of alsSD limited biofilm formation, but not to the degree observed with the corresponding sarA mutant, and restoration of alsSD expression did not restore the ability to form a biofilm. In contrast, concomitant mutation of sarA and nuc significantly enhanced biofilm formation by comparison to the sarA mutant. Although mutation of sspA had no significant impact on the ability of a sarA mutant to form a biofilm, a combination of protease inhibitors (E-64, 1-10-phenanthroline, and dichloroisocoumarin) that was shown to inhibit the production of multiple extracellular proteases without inhibiting growth was also shown to enhance the ability of a sarA mutant to form a biofilm. This effect was evident only when all three inhibitors were used concurrently. This suggests that the reduced capacity of a sarA mutant to form a biofilm involves extracellular proteases of all three classes (serine, cysteine and metalloproteases). Inclusion of protease inhibitors also enhanced biofilm formation in a sarA/nuc mutant, with the combined effect of mutating nuc and adding protease inhibitors resulting in a level of biofilm formation with the sarA mutant that approached that of the UAMS-1 parent strain. These results demonstrate that the inability of a sarA mutant to repress production of extracellular nuclease and multiple proteases have independent but cumulative effects that make a significant contribution to the biofilm-deficient phenotype of an S. aureus sarA mutant.
BACKGROUND - Activated factor X (FXa) is a vitamin K-dependent serine protease that plays a pivotal role in blood coagulation by converting prothrombin to thrombin. There are no reports of humans with complete deficiency of FX, and knockout of murine F10 is embryonic or perinatal lethal.
OBJECTIVE - We sought to generate a viable mouse model of FX deficiency.
METHODS - We used a socket-targeting construct to generate F10-knockout mice by eliminating F10 exon 8 (knockout allele termed F10(tm1Ccmt), abbreviated as '-'; wild-type '+'), and a plug-targeting construct to generate mice expressing a FX variant with normal antigen levels but low levels of FX activity [4-9% normal in humans carrying the defect, Pro343-->Ser, termed FX Friuli (mutant allele termed F10(tm2Ccmt), abbreviated as F)].
RESULTS - F10 knockout mice exhibited embryonic or perinatal lethality. In contrast, homozygous Friuli mice [F10 (F/F)] had FX activity levels of approximately 5.5% (sufficient to rescue both embryonic and perinatal lethality), but developed age-dependent iron deposition and cardiac fibrosis. Interestingly, F10 (-/F) mice with FX activity levels of 1-3% also showed complete rescue of lethality. Further study of this model provides evidence supporting a role of maternal FX transfer in the embryonic survival.
CONCLUSIONS - We demonstrate that, while complete absence of FX is incompatible with murine survival, minimal FX activity as low as 1-3% is sufficient to rescue the lethal phenotype. This viable low-FX mouse model will facilitate the development of FX-directed therapies as well as investigation of the FX role in embryonic development.
Herpesviruses require membrane-associated glycoproteins gB, gH, and gL for entry into host cells. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) gp42 is a unique protein also required for viral entry into B cells. Key interactions between EBV gp42 and the EBV gH/gL complex were investigated to further elucidate their roles in membrane fusion. Deletion and point mutants within the N-terminal region of gp42 revealed residues important for gH/gL binding and membrane fusion. Many five-residue deletion mutants in the N-terminal region of gp42 that exhibit reduced membrane fusion activity retain binding with gH/gL but map out two functional stretches between residues 36 and 96. Synthetic peptides derived from the gp42 N-terminal region were studied in in vitro binding experiments with purified gH/gL and in cell-cell fusion assays. A peptide spanning gp42 residues 36 to 81 (peptide 36-81) binds gH/gL with nanomolar affinity, comparable to full-length gp42. Peptide 36-81 efficiently inhibits epithelial cell membrane fusion and competes with soluble gp42 to inhibit B-cell fusion. Additionally, this peptide at low nanomolar concentrations inhibits epithelial cell infection by intact virus. Shorter gp42 peptides spanning the two functional regions identified by deletion mutagenesis had little or no binding to soluble gH/gL and were also unable to inhibit epithelial cell fusion, nor could they complement gp42 deletion mutants in B-cell fusion. These studies identify key residues of gp42 that are essential for gH/gL binding and membrane fusion activation, providing a nanomolar inhibitor of EBV-mediated membrane fusion.
The unique, well-demarcated expression domain of Pdx1 within the posterior foregut suggests that investigating its transcriptional regulation will provide insight into mechanisms that regionally pattern the endoderm. Previous phylogenetic comparison identified conserved noncoding regions that stimulate transcriptional activity selectively in cultured pancreatic beta cells. Characterization of these regulatory elements is helping to dissect the transcription factor networks that operate within beta cells, which is important for understanding the etiology of beta cell dysfunction and diabetes, as well as for developing methods to produce beta cells in vitro for cell-based therapies. We recently reported that deletion of three proximally located conserved areas (Area I-II-III) from the endogenous Pdx1 locus resulted in severely reduced expression of Pdx1 in the pancreas, and a milder decrease in other foregut tissues. Here, we report transgene-based complementation experiments on Pdx1 null mice, which reveal that the proximal promoter/enhancer region, including Area I-II-III, rescues the pancreatic defects caused by Pdx1 deficiency, but only weakly promotes expression of Pdx1 in the postnatal stomach and duodenum. These results reveal a role for distal cis-regulatory elements in achieving the correct level of extra-pancreatic Pdx1 expression, which is necessary for the production of duodenal GIP cells and stomach gastrin cells.
The positive-stranded RNA genome of the coronaviruses is translated from ORF1 to yield polyproteins that are proteolytically processed into intermediate and mature nonstructural proteins (nsps). Murine hepatitis virus (MHV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) polyproteins incorporate 16 protein domains (nsps), with nsp1 and nsp2 being the most variable among the coronaviruses and having no experimentally confirmed or predicted functions in replication. To determine if nsp2 is essential for viral replication, MHV and SARS-CoV genome RNA was generated with deletions of the nsp2 coding sequence (MHVDeltansp2 and SARSDeltansp2, respectively). Infectious MHVDeltansp2 and SARSDeltansp2 viruses recovered from electroporated cells had 0.5 to 1 log10 reductions in peak titers in single-cycle growth assays, as well as a reduction in viral RNA synthesis that was not specific for any positive-stranded RNA species. The Deltansp2 mutant viruses lacked expression of both nsp2 and an nsp2-nsp3 precursor, but cleaved the engineered chimeric nsp1-nsp3 cleavage site as efficiently as the native nsp1-nsp2 cleavage site. Replication complexes in MHVDeltansp2-infected cells lacked nsp2 but were morphologically indistinguishable from those of wild-type MHV by immunofluorescence. nsp2 expressed in cells by stable retroviral transduction was specifically recruited to viral replication complexes upon infection with MHVDeltansp2. These results demonstrate that while nsp2 of MHV and SARS-CoV is dispensable for viral replication in cell culture, deletion of the nsp2 coding sequence attenuates viral growth and RNA synthesis. These findings also provide a system for the study of determinants of nsp targeting and function.
The role of a dprA ortholog (Cj0634) in Campylobacter jejuni transformation was phenotypically assessed using two strains. C. jejuni strain 11168 was naturally competent for transformation by chromosomal DNA, while efficiency decreased 100-fold in a Cj0634::aphA mutant, whereas C. jejuni strain 480 was not naturally competent. C. jejuni strain 480 but not 11168 could be electro-transformed by shuttle plasmid pRY111, an effect completely abolished by Cj0634 interruption. Complementation of the Cj0634 mutation in C. jejuni strain 480 in trans with vectors containing the dprA homologs from C. jejuni, Helicobacter pylori, or Haemophilus influenzae, completely (for Cj0634) or partially (H. pylori>H. influenzae) restored electro-transformation. Thus, C. jejuni expresses a DprA ortholog that functionally most closely resembles that of H. pylori and is involved in DNA transformation.
Replication of kDNA in the mitochondrion of the kinetoplastid protozoan is an essential process. One of the proteins that may be required for the kDNA replication is the ribonuclease H (RNase H; EC 126.96.36.199). We have identified four distinct ribonuclease H genes in Leishmania, one type I (LRNase HI) and three type II (LRNase HIIA, LRNase HIIB and LRNase HIIC). We detail here molecular characterization of LRNase HIIC. The coding sequence of LRNase HIIC is 1425 bp in length encoding a 474-amino acid protein with a calculated molecular mass of approximately 53 kDa. While LRNase HIIC shares several conserved domains with mitochondrial RNase H from other organisms, it has three extra patches of amino acid sequences unique to this enzyme. Functional identity of this protein as an RNase H was verified by genetic complementation in RNase H-deficient Escherichia coli. The precursor protein may be enzymatically inactive as it failed to complement the E. coli mutant. The mitochondrial localization signal in LRNase HIIC is within the first 40 amino acid residues at the N-terminus. In vitro import of the protein by the mitochondrial vesicles showed that the precursor protein is processed to a 49-kDa protein. Antisense ablation of LRNase HIIC gene expression is lethal to the parasite cells both in vitro and in vivo. This study not only reveals the significance of the LRNase HIIC in the kinetoplast biology but also identifies a potential molecular target for antileishmanial chemotherapy.