DNA-Protein Complexes Created by Mutant EcoRII Methyltransferase and Quinolone Antibiotics in Escherichia coli
Expression of mutant M.EcoRII protein (M.EcoRII-C186A) in Escherichia coli leads to tightly bound DNA-protein complexes (TBCs), located sporadically on the chromosome rather than in tandem arrays. The mechanisms behind the lethality induced by such sporadic TBCs are not well studied, nor is it clear whether very tight binding but non-covalent complexes are processed in the same way as covalent DNA-protein crosslinks (DPCs). Using 2D gel electrophoresis, we found that TBCs induced by M.EcoRII-C186A block replication forks in vivo. Specific bubble molecules were detected as spots on the 2D gel, only when M.EcoRII-C186A was induced, and a mutation that eliminates a specific EcoRII methylation site led to disappearance of the corresponding spot. We also performed a candidate gene screen for mutants that are hypersensitive to TBCs induced by M.EcoRII-C186A. We found several gene products necessary for protection against these TBCs that are known to also protect against DPCs induced with wild-type M.EcoRII (after aza-C incorporation): RecA, RecBC, RecG, RuvABC, UvrD, FtsK, and SsrA (tmRNA). In contrast, the RecFOR pathway and Rep helicase are needed for protection against TBCs but not DPCs induced by M.EcoRII. We propose that stalled fork protection by RecFOR and RecA promotes release of tightly bound (but non-covalent) blocking proteins, perhaps by inducing Rep helicase-driven dissociation of the blocking M.EcoRII-C186A. Our studies also argued against the involvement of several proteins that might be expected to protect against TBCs. We took the opportunity to directly compare the sensitivity of all tested mutants to two quinolone antibiotics, which target bacterial type II topoisomerases and induce a unique form of DPC. We uncovered rep and ftsK as novel quinolone hypersensitive mutants, and also obtained evidence against the involvement of a number of functions that might be expected to protect against quinolones.
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