Infection and Immunity
The toxin MazFsa in Staphylococcus aureus is a sequence-specific endoribonuclease that cleaves the majority of the mRNAs in vivo but spares many essential mRNAs (e.g., secY mRNA) and, surprisingly, an mRNA encoding a regulatory protein (i.e., sarA mRNA). We hypothesize that some mRNAs may be protected by RNA-binding protein(s) from degradation by MazFsa. Using heparin-Sepharose-enriched fractions that hybridized to sarA mRNA on Northwestern blots, we identified among multiple proteins the DEAD box RNA helicase CshA (NWMN_1985 or SA1885) by mass spectroscopy. Purified CshA exhibits typical RNA helicase activities, as exemplified by RNA-dependent ATPase activity and unwinding of the DNA-RNA duplex. A severe growth defect was observed in the cshA mutant compared with the parent when grown at 25°C but not at 37°C. Activation of MazFsa in the cshA mutant resulted in lower CFU per milliliter accompanied by a precipitous drop in viability (∼40%) compared to those of the parent and complemented strains. NanoString analysis reveals diminished expression of a small number of mRNAs and 22 small RNAs (sRNAs) in the cshA mutant versus the parent upon MazFsa induction, thus implying protection of these RNAs by CshA. In the case of the sRNA teg049 within the sarA locus, we showed that the protective effect was likely due to transcript stability as revealed by reduced half-life in the cshA mutant versus the parent. Accordingly, CshA likely stabilizes selective mRNAs and sRNAs in vivo and as a result enhances S. aureus survival upon MazFsa induction during stress.
Kim, Samin; Corvaglia, Anna-Rita; Léo, Stefano; Cheung, Ambrose; and Francois, Patrice, "Characterization of RNA Helicase CshA and Its Role in Protecting mRNAs and Small RNAs of Staphylococcus aureus Strain Newman" (2016). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 913.