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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2019 Apr 4;85(8). pii: e00104-19. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00104-19. Print 2019 Apr 15.

Phosphorothioated DNA Is Shielded from Oxidative Damage.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Science and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.
Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.
Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, Bournemouth University, Poole, United Kingdom.
State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Science and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Contributed equally


DNA is the carrier of genetic information. DNA modifications play a central role in essential physiological processes. Phosphorothioation (PT) modification involves the replacement of an oxygen atom on the DNA backbone with a sulfur atom. PT modification can cause genomic instability in Salmonella enterica under hypochlorous acid stress. This modification restores hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) resistance in the catalase-deficient Escherichia coli Hpx- strain. Here, we report biochemical characterization results for a purified PT modification protein complex (DndCDE) from S. enterica We observed multiplex oligomeric states of DndCDE by using native PAGE. This protein complex bound avidly to PT-modified DNA. DndCDE with an intact iron-sulfur cluster (DndCDE-FeS) possessed H2O2 decomposition activity, with a V max of 10.58 ± 0.90 mM min-1 and a half-saturation constant, K 0.5S, of 31.03 mM. The Hill coefficient was 2.419 ± 0.59 for this activity. The protein's activity toward H2O2 was observed to be dependent on the intact DndCDE and on the formation of an iron-sulfur (Fe-S) cluster on the DndC subunit. In addition to cysteine residues that mediate the formation of this Fe-S cluster, other cysteine residues play a catalytic role. Finally, catalase activity was also detected in DndCDE from Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf0-1. The data and conclusions presented suggest that DndCDE-FeS is a short-lived catalase. Our experiments also indicate that the complex binds to PT sites, shielding PT DNA from H2O2 damage. This catalase shield might be able to extend from PT sites to the entire bacterial genome.IMPORTANCE DNA phosphorothioation has been reported in many bacteria. These PT-hosting bacteria live in very different environments, such as the human body, soil, or hot springs. The physiological function of DNA PT modification is still elusive. A remarkable property of PT modification is that purified genomic PT DNA is susceptible to oxidative cleavage. Among the oxidants, hypochlorous acid and H2O2 are of physiological relevance for human pathogens since they are generated during the human inflammation response to bacterial infection. However, expression of PT genes in the catalase-deficient E. coli Hpx- strain restores H2O2 resistance. Here, we seek to solve this obvious paradox. We demonstrate that DndCDE-FeS is a short-lived catalase that binds tightly to PT DNA. It is thus possible that by docking to PT sites the catalase activity protects the bacterial genome against H2O2 damage.


DNA modification; DNA phosphorothioation; H2O2 decomposition; iron-sulfur cluster

[Available on 2019-10-04]

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