Spatial organization of DNA sequences directs the assembly of bacterial chromatin by a nucleoid-associated protein

Structural differentiation of bacterial chromatin depends on cooperative binding of abundant nucleoid-associated proteins at numerous genomic DNA sites and stabilization of distinct long-range nucleoprotein structures. Histone-like nucleoid-structuring protein (H-NS) is an abundant DNA-bridging, nucleoid-associated protein that binds to an AT-rich conserved DNA sequence motif and regulates both the shape and the genetic expression of the bacterial chromosome. Although there is ample evidence that the mode of H-NS binding depends on environmental conditions, the role of the spatial organization of H-NS-binding sequences in the assembly of long-range nucleoprotein structures remains unknown. In this study, by using high-resolution atomic force microscopy combined with biochemical assays, we explored the formation of H-NS nucleoprotein complexes on circular DNA molecules having different arrangements of identical sequences containing high-affinity H-NS-binding sites. We provide the first experimental evidence that variable sequence arrangements result in various three-dimensional nucleoprotein structures that differ in their shape and the capacity to constrain supercoils and compact the DNA. We believe that the DNA sequence-directed versatile assembly of periodic higher-order structures reveals a general organizational principle that can be exploited for knowledge-based design of long-range nucleoprotein complexes and purposeful manipulation of the bacterial chromatin architecture.

Published in:
Journal Of Biological Chemistry, 292, 18, 7607-7618
Bethesda, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

 Record created 2017-07-10, last modified 2019-12-05

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