Mrj encodes a DnaJ-related co-chaperone that is essential for murine placental development.
We have identified a novel gene in a gene trap screen that encodes a protein related to the DnaJ co-chaperone in E. coli. The gene, named Mrj (mammalian relative of DnaJ) was expressed throughout development in both the embryo and placenta. Within the placenta, expression was particularly high in trophoblast giant cells but moderate levels were also observed in trophoblast cells of the chorion at embryonic day 8.5, and later in the labyrinth which arises from the attachment of the chorion to the allantois (a process called chorioallantoic fusion). Insertion of the ROSAbetageo gene trap vector into the Mrj gene created a null allele. Homozygous Mrj mutants died at mid-gestation due to a failure of chorioallantoic fusion at embryonic day 8.5, which precluded formation of the mature placenta. At embryonic day 8.5, the chorion in mutants was morphologically normal and expressed the cell adhesion molecule beta4 integrin that is known to be required for chorioallantoic fusion. However, expression of the chorionic trophoblast-specific transcription factor genes Err2 and Gcm1 was significantly reduced. The mutants showed no abnormal phenotypes in other trophoblast cell types or in the embryo proper. This study indicates a previously unsuspected role for chaperone proteins in placental development and represents the first genetic analysis of DnaJ-related protein function in higher eukaryotes. Based on a survey of EST databases representing different mouse tissues and embryonic stages, there are 40 or more DnaJ-related genes in mammals. In addition to Mrj, at least two of these genes are also expressed in the developing mouse placenta. The specificity of the developmental defect in Mrj mutants suggests that each of these genes may have unique tissue and cellular activities. (+info
Regulation of body length and male tail ray pattern formation of Caenorhabditis elegans by a member of TGF-beta family.
We have identified a new member of the TGF-beta superfamily, CET-1, from Caenorhabditis elegans, which is expressed in the ventral nerve cord and other neurons. cet-1 null mutants have shortened bodies and male tail abnormal phenotype resembling sma mutants, suggesting cet-1, sma-2, sma-3 and sma-4 share a common pathway. Overexpression experiments demonstrated that cet-1 function requires wild-type sma genes. Interestingly, CET-1 appears to affect body length in a dose-dependent manner. Heterozygotes for cet-1 displayed body lengths ranging between null mutant and wild type, and overexpression of CET-1 in wild-type worms elongated body length close to lon mutants. In male sensory ray patterning, lack of cet-1 function results in ray fusions. Epistasis analysis revealed that mab-21 lies downstream and is negatively regulated by the cet-1/sma pathway in the male tail. Our results show that cet-1 controls diverse biological processes during C. elegans development probably through different target genes. (+info
Isocitrate lyase of Ashbya gossypii--transcriptional regulation and peroxisomal localization.
The isocitrate lyase-encoding gene AgICL1 from the filamentous hemiascomycete Ashbya gossypii was isolated by heterologous complementation of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae icl1d mutant. The open reading frame of 1680 bp encoded a protein of 560 amino acids with a calculated molecular weight of 62584. Disruption of the AgICL1 gene led to complete loss of AgIcl1p activity and inability to grow on oleic acid as sole carbon source. Compartmentation of AgIcl1p in peroxisomes was demonstrated both by Percoll density gradient centrifugation and by immunogold labeling of ultrathin sections using specific antibodies. This fitted with the peroxisomal targeting signal AKL predicted from the C-terminal DNA sequence. Northern blot analysis with mycelium grown on different carbon sources as well as AgICL1 promoter replacement with the constitutive AgTEF promoter revealed a regulation at the transcriptional level. AgICL1 was subject to glucose repression, derepressed by glycerol, partially induced by the C2 compounds ethanol and acetate, and fully induced by soybean oil. (+info
Crystal structure of the FMN-binding domain of human cytochrome P450 reductase at 1.93 A resolution.
The crystal structure of the FMN-binding domain of human NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (P450R-FMN), a key component in the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system, has been determined to 1.93 A resolution and shown to be very similar both to the global fold in solution (Barsukov I et al., 1997, J Biomol NMR 10:63-75) and to the corresponding domain in the 2.6 A crystal structure of intact rat P450R (Wang M et al., 1997, Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 94:8411-8416). The crystal structure of P450R-FMN reported here confirms the overall similarity of its alpha-beta-alpha architecture to that of the bacterial flavodoxins, but reveals differences in the position, number, and length of the helices relative to the central beta-sheet. The marked similarity between P450R-FMN and flavodoxins in the interactions between the FMN and the protein, indicate a striking evolutionary conservation of the FMN binding site. The P450R-FMN molecule has an unusual surface charge distribution, leading to a very strong dipole, which may be involved in docking cytochrome P450 into place for electron transfer near the FMN. Several acidic residues near the FMN are identified by mutagenesis experiments to be important for electron transfer to P4502D6 and to cytochrome c, a clear indication of the part of the molecular surface that is likely to be involved in substrate binding. Somewhat different parts are found to be involved in binding cytochrome P450 and cytochrome c. (+info
Tolerance of a protein to multiple polar-to-hydrophobic surface substitutions.
Hydrophobic substitutions at solvent-exposed positions in two alpha-helical regions of the bacteriophage P22 Arc repressor were introduced by combinatorial mutagenesis. In helix A, hydrophobic residues were tolerated individually at each of the five positions examined, but multiple substitutions were poorly tolerated as shown by the finding that mutants with more than two additional hydrophobic residues were biologically inactive. Several inactive helix A variants were purified and found to have reduced thermal stability relative to wild-type Arc, with a rough correlation between the number of polar-to-hydrophobic substitutions and the magnitude of the stability defect. Quite different results were obtained in helix B, where variants with as many as five polar-to-hydrophobic substitutions were found to be biologically active and one variant with three hydrophobic substitutions had a t(m) 6 degrees C higher than wild-type. By contrast, a helix A mutant with three similar polar-to-hydrophobic substitutions was 23 degrees C less stable than wild-type. Also, one set of three polar-to-hydrophobic substitutions in helix B was tolerated when introduced into the wild-type background but not when introduced into an equally active mutant having a nearly identical structure. Context effects occur both when comparing different regions of the same protein and when comparing the same region in two different homologues. (+info
Analysis of 4-phosphopantetheinylation of polyhydroxybutyrate synthase from Ralstonia eutropha: generation of beta-alanine auxotrophic Tn5 mutants and cloning of the panD gene region.
The postulated posttranslational modification of the polyhydroxybutyrate (PHA) synthase from Ralstonia eutropha by 4-phosphopantetheine was investigated. Four beta-alanine auxotrophic Tn5-induced mutants of R. eutropha HF39 were isolated, and two insertions were mapped in an open reading frame with strong similarity to the panD gene from Escherichia coli, encoding L-aspartate-1-decarboxylase (EC 188.8.131.52), whereas two other insertions were mapped in an open reading frame (ORF) with strong similarity to the NAD(P)+ transhydrogenase (EC 184.108.40.206) alpha 1 subunit, encoded by the pntAA gene from Escherichia coli. The panD gene was cloned by complementation of the panD mutant of R. eutropha Q20. DNA sequencing of the panD gene region (3,312 bp) revealed an ORF of 365 bp, encoding a protein with 63 and 67% amino acid sequence similarity to PanD from E. coli and Bacillus subtilis, respectively. Subcloning of only this ORF into vectors pBBR1MCS-3 and pBluescript KS- led to complementation of the panD mutants of R. eutropha and E. coli SJ16, respectively. panD-encoded L-aspartate-1-decarboxylase was further confirmed by an enzymatic assay. Upstream of panD, an ORF with strong similarity to pntAA from E. coli, encoding NAD(P)+ transhydrogenase subunit alpha 1 was found; downstream of panD, two ORFs with strong similarity to pntAB and pntB, encoding subunits alpha 2 and beta of the NAD(P)+ transhydrogenase, respectively, were identified. Thus, a hitherto undetermined organization of pan and pnt genes was found in R. eutropha. Labeling experiments using one of the R. eutropha panD mutants and [2-14C]beta-alanine provided no evidence that R. eutropha PHA synthase is covalently modified by posttranslational attachment of 4-phosphopantetheine, nor did the E. coli panD mutant exhibit detectable labeling of functional PHA synthase from R. eutropha. (+info
Molecular characterization of the nitrite-reducing system of Staphylococcus carnosus.
Characterization of a nitrite reductase-negative Staphylococcus carnosus Tn917 mutant led to the identification of the nir operon, which encodes NirBD, the dissimilatory NADH-dependent nitrite reductase; SirA, the putative oxidase and chelatase, and SirB, the uroporphyrinogen III methylase, both of which are necessary for biosynthesis of the siroheme prosthetic group; and NirR, which revealed no convincing similarity to proteins with known functions. We suggest that NirR is essential for nir promoter activity. In the absence of NirR, a weak promoter upstream of sirA seems to drive transcription of sirA, nirB, nirD, and sirB in the stationary-growth phase. In primer extension experiments one predominant and several weaker transcription start sites were identified in the nir promoter region. Northern blot analyses indicated that anaerobiosis and nitrite are induction factors of the nir operon: cells grown aerobically with nitrite revealed small amounts of full-length transcript whereas cells grown anaerobically with or without nitrite showed large amounts of full-length transcript. Although a transcript is detectable, no nitrite reduction occurs in cells grown aerobically with nitrite, indicating an additional oxygen-controlled step at the level of translation, enzyme folding, assembly, or insertion of prosthetic groups. The nitrite-reducing activity expressed during anaerobiosis is switched off reversibly when the oxygen tension increases, most likely due to competition for electrons with the aerobic respiratory chain. Another gene, nirC, is located upstream of the nir operon. nirC encodes a putative integral membrane-spanning protein of unknown function. A nirC mutant showed no distinct phenotype. (+info
Protein ProQ influences osmotic activation of compatible solute transporter ProP in Escherichia coli K-12.
ProP is an osmoregulatory compatible solute transporter in Escherichia coli K-12. Mutation proQ220::Tn5 decreased the rate constant for and the extent of ProP activation by an osmotic upshift but did not alter proP transcription or the ProP protein level. Allele proQ220::Tn5 was isolated, and the proQ sequence was determined. Locus proQ is upstream from prc (tsp) at 41.2 centisomes on the genetic map. The proQ220::Tn5 and prc phenotypes were different, however. Gene proQ is predicted to encode a 232-amino-acid, basic, hydrophilic protein (molecular mass, 25,876 Da; calculated isoelectric point, 9.66; 32% D, E, R, or K; 54.5% polar amino acids). The insertion of PCR-amplified proQ into vector pBAD24 produced a plasmid containing the wild-type proQ open reading frame, the expression of which yielded a soluble protein with an apparent molecular mass of 30 kDa. Antibodies raised against the overexpressed ProQ protein detected cross-reactive material in proQ+ bacteria but not in proQ220::Tn5 bacteria. ProQ may be a structural element that influences the osmotic activation of ProP at a posttranslational level. (+info