Front Microbiol. 2017 Jul 31;8:1447. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.01447. eCollection 2017.
The bacterial chromosome is compacted in a manner optimal for DNA transactions to occur. The degree of compaction results from the level of DNA-supercoiling and the presence of nucleoid-binding proteins. DNA-supercoiling is homeostatically maintained by the opposing activities of relaxing DNA topoisomerases and negative supercoil-inducing DNA gyrase. DNA-supercoiling acts as a general cis regulator of transcription, which can be superimposed upon other types of more specific trans regulatory mechanism. Transcriptomic studies on the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, which has a relatively small genome (∼2 Mb) and few nucleoid-binding proteins, have been performed under conditions of local and global changes in supercoiling. The response to local changes induced by fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which target DNA gyrase subunit A and/or topoisomerase IV, involves an increase in oxygen radicals which reduces cell viability, while the induction of global supercoiling changes by novobiocin (a DNA gyrase subunit B inhibitor), or by seconeolitsine (a topoisomerase I inhibitor), has revealed the existence of topological domains that specifically respond to such changes. The control of DNA-supercoiling in S. pneumoniae occurs mainly via the regulation of topoisomerase gene transcription: relaxation triggers the up-regulation of gyrase and the down-regulation of topoisomerases I and IV, while hypernegative supercoiling down-regulates the expression of topoisomerase I. Relaxation affects 13% of the genome, with the majority of the genes affected located in 15 domains. Hypernegative supercoiling affects 10% of the genome, with one quarter of the genes affected located in 12 domains. However, all the above domains overlap, suggesting that the chromosome is organized into topological domains with fixed locations. Based on its response to relaxation, the pneumococcal chromosome can be said to be organized into five types of domain: up-regulated, down-regulated, position-conserved non-regulated, position-variable non-regulated, and AT-rich. The AT content is higher in the up-regulated than in the down-regulated domains. Genes within the different domains share structural and functional characteristics. It would seem that a topology-driven selection pressure has defined the chromosomal location of the metabolism, virulence and competence genes, which suggests the existence of topological rules that aim to improve bacterial fitness.
DNA supercoiling; DNA topoisomerases; fluoroquinolones; global transcription; interactome; novobiocin; seconeolitsine; topological domains