Direct evidence for control of the pheromone-inducible prgQ operon of Enterococcus faecalis plasmid pCF10 by a countertranscript-driven attenuation mechanism

Christopher M. Johnson, Dawn A. Manias, Heather A.H. Haemig, Sonia Shokeen, Keith E. Weaver, Tina M. Henkin, Gary M. Dunny

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29 Scopus citations

Abstract

The mating response of Enterococcus faecalis cells carrying the conjugative plasmid pCF10 is controlled by multiple regulatory circuits. Initiation of transcription of the prgQ conjugation operon is controlled by the peptide receptor protein PrgX; binding of the pheromone peptide cCF10 to PrgX abolishes PrgX repression, while binding of the inhibitor peptide iCF10 enhances repression. The results of molecular analysis of prgQ transcripts and genetic studies suggested that the elongation of prgQ transcripts past a putative terminator (IRS1) may be controlled by the interaction of nascent prgQ mRNAs with a small antisense RNA (Anti-Q) encoded within prgQ. Direct evidence for interaction of these RNAs, as well as the resulting effects on readthrough of prgQ transcription, has been limited. Here we report the results of experiments that (i) determine the inherent termination properties of prgQ transcripts in the absence of Anti-Q; (ii) determine the direct effects of the interaction of Anti-Q with nascent prgQ transcripts in the absence of complicating effects of the PrgX protein; and (iii) begin to dissect the structural components involved in these interactions. The results confirm the existence of alternative terminating and antiterminating forms of nascent prgQ transcripts in vivo and demonstrate that the interaction of Anti-Q with these transcripts leads to termination via inhibition of antiterminator formation. In vitro transcription assays support the major results of the in vivo studies. The data support a model for Anti-Q function suggested from recent studies of these RNAs and their interactions in vitro (S. Shokeen, C. M. Johnson, T. J. Greenfield, D. A. Manias, G. M. Dunny, and K. E. Weaver, submitted for publication).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1634-1642
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Volume192
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2010

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