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PLoS Genet. 2013 May;9(5):e1003541. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003541. Epub 2013 May 30.

DNA binding of the cell cycle transcriptional regulator GcrA depends on N6-adenosine methylation in Caulobacter crescentus and other Alphaproteobacteria.

Author information

1
Interdisciplinary Research Institute USR3078, CNRS-Université Lille Nord de France, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.

Abstract

Several regulators are involved in the control of cell cycle progression in the bacterial model system Caulobacter crescentus, which divides asymmetrically into a vegetative G1-phase (swarmer) cell and a replicative S-phase (stalked) cell. Here we report a novel functional interaction between the enigmatic cell cycle regulator GcrA and the N6-adenosine methyltransferase CcrM, both highly conserved proteins among Alphaproteobacteria, that are activated early and at the end of S-phase, respectively. As no direct biochemical and regulatory relationship between GcrA and CcrM were known, we used a combination of ChIP (chromatin-immunoprecipitation), biochemical and biophysical experimentation, and genetics to show that GcrA is a dimeric DNA-binding protein that preferentially targets promoters harbouring CcrM methylation sites. After tracing CcrM-dependent N6-methyl-adenosine promoter marks at a genome-wide scale, we show that these marks recruit GcrA in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we found that, in the presence of a methylated target, GcrA recruits the RNA polymerase to the promoter, consistent with its role in transcriptional activation. Since methylation-dependent DNA binding is also observed with GcrA orthologs from other Alphaproteobacteria, we conclude that GcrA is the founding member of a new and conserved class of transcriptional regulators that function as molecular effectors of a methylation-dependent (non-heritable) epigenetic switch that regulates gene expression during the cell cycle.

PMID:
23737758
PMCID:
PMC3667746
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pgen.1003541
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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