Bacterial small RNA (sRNA) regulators have been identified in many species and play critical regulatory roles in the cell. The majority of identified sRNAs remain uncharacterized and the standard approaches for identifying sRNA targets focus on measuring transcript, not protein, abundances. Here, we introduce a quantitative, time-resolved proteomic method for elucidating sRNA function. Using bio-orthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT), we measured proteome-wide effects of the expression of the Escherichia coli sRNA regulator CyaR on a time scale of minutes. We identify and confirm three new CyaR targets, expanding the known functions of CyaR to include carbon metabolism, osmoregulation and transcriptional regulation.
Bacteria use a process of chemical communication called quorum sensing to assess their population density and to change their behavior in response to fluctuations in the cell number and species composition of the community. In this work, we identified the quorum-sensing-regulated proteome in the model organism Vibrio harveyi by bio-orthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT). BONCAT enables measurement of proteome dynamics with temporal resolution on the order of minutes. We deployed BONCAT to characterize the time-dependent transition of V. harveyi from individual- to group-behaviors. We identified 176 quorum-sensing-regulated proteins at early, intermediate, and late stages of the transition, and we mapped the temporal changes in quorum-sensing proteins controlled by both transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms. Analysis of the identified proteins revealed 86 known and 90 new quorum-sensing-regulated proteins with diverse functions, including transcription factors, chemotaxis proteins, transport proteins, and proteins involved in iron homeostasis.
Methods for cell-selective analysis of proteome dynamics will facilitate studies of biological processes in multicellular organisms. Here we describe a mutant murine methionyl-tRNA synthetase (designated L274GMmMetRS) that charges the noncanonical amino acid azidonorleucine (Anl) to elongator tRNA(Met) in hamster (CHO), monkey (COS7), and human (HeLa) cell lines. Proteins made in cells that express the synthetase can be labeled with Anl, tagged with dyes or affinity reagents, and enriched on affinity resin to facilitate identification by mass spectrometry. The method does not require expression of orthogonal tRNAs or depletion of canonical amino acids. Successful labeling of proteins with Anl in several mammalian cell lines demonstrates the utility of L274GMmMetRS as a tool for cell-selective analysis of mammalian protein synthesis.
Access to protein substrates homogenously modified by ubiquitin (Ub) is critical for biophysical and biochemical investigations aimed at deconvoluting the myriad biological roles for Ub. Current chemical strategies for protein ubiquitylation, however, employ temporary ligation auxiliaries that are removed under harsh denaturing conditions and have limited applicability. We report an unprecedented aromatic thiol-mediated N–O bond cleavage and its application towards native chemical ubiquitylation with the ligation auxiliary 2-aminooxyethanethiol. Our interrogation of the reaction mechanism suggests a disulfide radical anion as the active species capable of cleaving the N–O bond. The successful semisynthesis of full-length histone H2B modified by the small ubiquitin-like modifier-3 (SUMO-3) protein further demonstrates the generalizability and compatibility of our strategy with folded proteins.
Quorum sensing is a cell-cell communication process that bacteria use to transition between individual and social lifestyles. In vibrios, homologous small RNAs called the Qrr sRNAs function at the center of quorum-sensing pathways. The Qrr sRNAs regulate multiple mRNA targets including those encoding the quorum-sensing regulatory components luxR, luxO, luxM, and aphA. We show that a representative Qrr, Qrr3, uses four distinct mechanisms to control its particular targets: the Qrr3 sRNA represses luxR through catalytic degradation, represses luxM through coupled degradation, represses luxO through sequestration, and activates aphA by revealing the ribosome binding site while the sRNA itself is degraded. Qrr3 forms different base-pairing interactions with each mRNA target, and the particular pairing strategy determines which regulatory mechanism occurs. Combined mathematical modeling and experiments show that the specific Qrr regulatory mechanism employed governs the potency, dynamics, and competition of target mRNA regulation, which in turn, defines the overall quorum-sensing response.
An approach to proteomic analysis that combines bioorthogonal noncanonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) and pulsed stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (pSILAC) provides accurate quantitative information about rates of cellular protein synthesis on time scales of minutes. The method is capable of quantifying 1400 proteins produced by HeLa cells during a 30 min interval, a time scale that is inaccessible to isotope labeling techniques alone. Potential artifacts in protein quantification can be reduced to insignificant levels by limiting the extent of noncanonical amino acid tagging. We find no evidence for artifacts in protein identification in experiments that combine the BONCAT and pSILAC methods.
Cellulases containing a family 9 catalytic domain and a family 3c cellulose binding module (CBM3c) are important components of bacterial cellulolytic systems. We measured the temperature dependence of the activities of three homologs: Clostridium cellulolyticum Cel9G, Thermobifida fusca Cel9A, and C. thermocellum Cel9I. To directly compare their catalytic activities, we constructed six new versions of the enzymes in which the three GH9-CBM3c domains were fused to a dockerin both with and without a T. fusca fibronectin type 3 homology module (Fn3). We studied the activities of these enzymes on crystalline cellulose alone and in complex with a miniscaffoldin containing a cohesin and a CBM3a. The presence of Fn3 had no measurable effect on thermostability or cellulase activity. The GH9-CBM3c domains of Cel9A and Cel9I, however, were more active than the wild type when fused to a dockerin complexed to scaffoldin. The three cellulases in complex have similar activities on crystalline cellulose up to 60°C, but C. thermocellum Cel9I, the most thermostable of the three, remains highly active up to 80°C, where its activity is 1.9 times higher than at 60°C. We also compared the temperature-dependent activities of different versions of Cel9I (wild type or in complex with a miniscaffoldin) and found that the thermostable CBM is necessary for activity on crystalline cellulose at high temperatures. These results illustrate the significant benefits of working with thermostable enzymes at high temperatures, as well as the importance of retaining the stability of all modules involved in cellulose degradation.
The azide-alkyne cycloaddition provides a powerful tool for bio-orthogonal labeling of proteins, nucleic acids, glycans, and lipids. In some labeling experiments, e.g., in proteomic studies involving affinity purification and mass spectrometry, it is convenient to use cleavable probes that allow release of labeled biomolecules under mild conditions. Five cleavable biotin probes are described for use in labeling of proteins and other biomolecules via azide-alkyne cycloaddition. Subsequent to conjugation with metabolically labeled protein, these probes are subject to cleavage with either 50 mM Na(2)S(2)O(4), 2% HOCH(2)CH(2)SH, 10% HCO(2)H, 95% CF(3)CO(2)H, or irradiation at 365 nm. Most strikingly, a probe constructed around a dialkoxydiphenylsilane (DADPS) linker was found to be cleaved efficiently when treated with 10% HCO(2)H for 0.5 h. A model green fluorescent protein was used to demonstrate that the DADPS probe undergoes highly selective conjugation and leaves a small (143 Da) mass tag on the labeled protein after cleavage. These features make the DADPS probe especially attractive for use in biomolecular labeling and proteomic studies.