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Open Access Research article

A bacterial PriB with weak single-stranded DNA binding activity can stimulate the DNA unwinding activity of its cognate PriA helicase

Cui Feng1, Bharath Sunchu1, Mallory E Greenwood12 and Matthew E Lopper1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Dayton, OH 45469, USA

2 College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 833 S. Wood St., Chicago, Il 60612, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:189  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-189

Published: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Background

Bacterial DNA replication restart pathways facilitate reinitiation of DNA replication following disruptive encounters of a replisome with DNA damage, thereby allowing complete and faithful duplication of the genome. In Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the primosome proteins that catalyze DNA replication restart differ from the well-studied primosome proteins of E. coli with respect to the number of proteins involved and the affinities of their physical interactions: the PriA:PriB interaction is weak in E. coli, but strong in N. gonorrhoeae, and the PriB:DNA interaction is strong in E. coli, but weak in N. gonorrhoeae. In this study, we investigated the functional consequences of this affinity reversal.

Results

We report that N. gonorrhoeae PriA's DNA binding and unwinding activities are similar to those of E. coli PriA, and N. gonorrhoeae PriA's helicase activity is stimulated by its cognate PriB, as it is in E. coli. This finding is significant because N. gonorrhoeae PriB's single-stranded DNA binding activity is weak relative to that of E. coli PriB, and in E. coli, PriB's single-stranded DNA binding activity is important for PriB stimulation of PriA helicase. Furthermore, a N. gonorrhoeae PriB variant defective for binding single-stranded DNA can stimulate PriA's helicase activity, suggesting that DNA binding by PriB might not be important for PriB stimulation of PriA helicase in N. gonorrhoeae. We also demonstrate that N. gonorrhoeae PriB stimulates ATP hydrolysis catalyzed by its cognate PriA. This activity of PriB has not been observed in E. coli, and could be important for PriB stimulation of PriA helicase in N. gonorrhoeae.

Conclusions

The results of this study demonstrate that a bacterial PriB homolog with weak single-stranded DNA binding activity can stimulate the DNA unwinding activity of its cognate PriA helicase. While it remains unclear if N. gonorrhoeae PriB's weak DNA binding activity is required for PriB stimulation of PriA helicase, the ability of PriB to stimulate PriA-catalyzed ATP hydrolysis could play an important role. Thus, the weak interaction between N. gonorrhoeae PriB and DNA might be compensated for by the strong interaction between PriB and PriA, which could result in allosteric activation of PriA's ATPase activity.