Biochemical determinants of ObgE-mediated persistence

Natalie Verstraeten, Sotirios Gkekas, Cyrielle Ines Kint, Babette Deckers, Bram Van den Bergh, Pauline Herpels, Elen Louwagie, Wouter Knapen, Dorien Wilmaerts, Liselot Dewachter, Maarten Fauvart, Ranjan Kumar Singh, Jan Michiels, Wim Versees

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Obg is a versatile GTPase that plays a pivotal role in bacterial persistence. We previously showed that the Escherichia coli homolog ObgE exerts this activity through transcriptional activation of a toxin-antitoxin module and subsequent membrane depolarization. Here, we assessed the role of G-domain functionality in ObgE-mediated persistence. Through screening of a mutant library, we identified five obgE alleles (with substitutions G166V, D246G, S270I, N283I and I313N) that have lost their persistence function and no longer activate hokB expression. These alleles support viability of a strain otherwise deprived of ObgE, indicating that ObgE's persistence function can be uncoupled from its essential role. Based on the ObgE crystal structure, we designed two additional mutant proteins (T193A and D286Y), one of which (D286Y) no longer affects persistence. Using isothermal titration calorimetry, stopped-flow experiments and kinetics, we subsequently assessed nucleotide binding and GTPase activity in all mutants. With the exception of the S270I mutant that is possibly affected in protein-protein interactions, all mutants that have lost their persistence function display severely reduced binding to GDP or the alarmone ppGpp. However, we find no clear relation between persistence and GTP or pppGpp binding nor with GTP hydrolysis. Combined, our results signify an important step toward understanding biochemical determinants underlying persistence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1593-1608
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

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