Structural mechanism of Staphylococcus aureus Hfq binding to an RNA A-tract.
Hfq is a post-transcriptional regulator that plays a key role in bacterial gene expression by binding AU-rich sequences and A-tracts to facilitate the annealing of sRNAs to target mRNAs and to affect RNA stability. To understand how Hfq from the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (Sa) binds A-tract RNA, we determined the crystal structure of an Sa Hfq-adenine oligoribonucleotide complex. The structure reveals a bipartite RNA-binding motif on the distal face that is composed of a purine nucleotide-specificity site (R-site) and a non-discriminating linker site (L-site). The (R-L)-binding motif, which is also utilized by Bacillus subtilis Hfq to bind (AG)(3)A, differs from the (A-R-N) tripartite poly(A) RNA-binding motif of Escherichia coli Hfq whereby the Sa Hfq R-site strongly prefers adenosine, is more aromatic and permits deeper insertion of the adenine ring. R-site adenine-stacking residue Phe30, which is conserved among Gram-positive bacterial Hfqs, and an altered conformation about β3 and β4 eliminate the adenosine-specificity site (A-site) and create the L-site. Binding studies show that Sa Hfq binds (AU)(3)A ≈ (AG)(3)A ≥ (AC)(3)A > (AA)(3)A and L-site residue Lys33 plays a significant role. The (R-L) motif is likely utilized by Hfqs from most Gram-positive bacteria to bind alternating (A-N)(n) RNA.
Horstmann, N; Orans, J; Valentin-Hansen, P; Shelburne, SA; Brennan, RG
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)