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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01966

Intramolecular interactions dominate the autoregulation of Escherichia coli stringent factor RelA

Kathryn J. Turnbull1, 2, Ievgen Dzhygyr3, Søren Lindemose4,  Vasili Hauryliuk3 and  Mohammad Roghanian1, 2*
  • 1Umeå University, Sweden
  • 2University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3Department of Molecular Biology and MIMS, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 4Centre for Bacterial Stress Response and Persistence, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Amino acid starvation in Escherichia coli activates the enzymatic activity of the stringent factor RelA, leading to accumulation of the alarmone nucleotide (p)ppGpp. The alarmone acts as an intercellular messenger to regulate transcription, translation and metabolism to mediate bacterial stress adaptation. The enzymatic activity of RelA is subject to multi-layered allosteric control executed both by ligands – such as ‘starved’ ribosomal complexes, deacylated tRNA and pppGpp – and by individual RelA domains. The auto-regulation of RelA is proposed to act either in cis (inhibition of the enzymatic activity of the N-terminal region, NTD, by regulatory C-terminal region, CTD) or in trans (CTD-mediated dimerization leading to enzyme inhibition). In this report, we probed the regulatory roles of the individual domains of E. coli RelA and our results are not indicative of RelA dimerization being the key regulatory mechanism. First, at growth-permitting levels, ectopic expression of RelA CTD does not interfere with activation of native RelA, indicating lack of regulation via inhibitory complex formation in the cell. Second, in our biochemical assays, increasing RelA concentration does not decrease the enzyme activity, as would be expected in the case of efficient auto-inhibition via dimerization. Third, while high-level CTD expression efficiently inhibits the growth, the effect is independent of native RelA and is mediated by direct inhibition of protein synthesis, likely via direct interaction with the ribosomal A-site. Finally, deletion of the RRM domain of the CTD region leads to growth inhibition mediated by accumulation of (p)ppGpp, suggesting de-regulation of the synthetic activity in this mutant.

Keywords: (p)ppGpp, relA, RSH, Stringent response, ribosome, translation

Received: 22 Jun 2019; Accepted: 09 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Turnbull, Dzhygyr, Lindemose, Hauryliuk and Roghanian. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Mohammad Roghanian, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden, mohammad.roghanian@umu.se