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The Global Bacterial Regulator H-NS Promotes Transpososome Formation and Transposition in the Tn5 System

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The histone-like nucleoid structuring protein (H-NS) is an important regulator of stress response and virulence genes in gram-negative bacteria. In addition to binding regulatory regions of genes in a structure-specific manner, H-NS also binds in a structure-specific manner to sites in the Tn10 transpososome, allowing it to act as a positive regulator of Tn10 transposition. This is the only example to date of H-NS regulating a transposition system by interacting directly with the transposition machinery. In general, transposition complexes tend to include segments of deformed DNA and given the capacity of H-NS to bind such structures, and the results from the Tn10 system, we asked if H-NS might regulate another transposition system (Tn5) by directly binding the transposition machinery. We show in the current work that H-NS does bind Tn5 transposition complexes and use hydroxyl radical footprinting to characterize the H-NS interaction with the Tn5 transpososome. We also show that H-NS can promote Tn5 transpososome formation in vitro, which correlates with the Tn5 system showing a dependence on H-NS for transposition in vivo. Taken together the results suggest that H-NS might play an important role in the regulation of many different bacterial transposition systems and thereby contribute directly to lateral gene transfer.


Published in: Nucleic Acids Research 2009 37(2):309-321; doi:10.1093/nar/gkn935

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