Nagy ZA, Szakács D, Boros E, Héja D, Vígh E, Sándor N, Józsi M, Oroszlán G, Dobó J, Gál P, Pál G.

Ecotin, a microbial inhibitor of serine proteases, blocks multiple complement dependent and independent microbicidal activities of human serum

PLoS Pathog. 2019 Dec 20;15(12):e1008232. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008232

Ecotin is a serine protease inhibitor produced by hundreds of microbial species, including pathogens. Here we show, that ecotin orthologs from Escherichia coli, Yersinia pestis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Leishmania major are potent inhibitors of MASP-1 and MASP-2, the two key activator proteases of the complement lectin pathway. Factor D is the key activator protease of another complement activation route, the alternative pathway. We show that ecotin inhibits MASP-3, which is the sole factor D activator in resting human blood. In pathway-specific ELISA tests, we found that all ecotin orthologs are potent lectin pathway inhibitors, and at high concentration, they block the alternative pathway as well. In flow cytometry experiments, we compared the extent of complement-mediated opsonization and lysis of wild-type and ecotin-knockout variants of two E. coli strains carrying different surface lipopolysaccharides. We show, that endogenous ecotin provides significant protections against these microbicidal activities for both bacteria. By using pathway specific complement inhibitors, we detected classical-, lectin- and alternative pathway-driven complement attack from normal serum, with the relative contributions of the activation routes depending on the lipopolysaccharide type. Moreover, in cell proliferation experiments we observed an additional, complement-unrelated antimicrobial activity exerted by heat-inactivated serum. While ecotin-knockout cells are highly vulnerable to these activities, endogenous ecotin of wild-type bacteria provides complete protection against the lectin pathway-related and the complement-unrelated attack, and partial protection against the alternative pathway-related damage. In all, ecotin emerges as a potent, versatile self-defense tool that blocks multiple antimicrobial activities of the serum. These findings suggest that ecotin might be a relevant antimicrobial drug target.

Seol Y, Harami GM, Kovács M, Neuman KC

Homology sensing via non-linear amplification of sequence dependent pausing by RecQ helicase

Elife,2019 Aug 29;8. pii: e45909. doi: 10.7554/eLife.45909

RecQ helicases promote genomic stability through their unique ability to suppress illegitimate recombination and resolve recombination intermediates. These DNA structure-specific activities of RecQ helicases are mediated by the helicase-and-RNAseD like C-terminal (HRDC) domain, via unknown mechanisms. Here, employing single-molecule magnetic tweezers and rapid kinetic approaches we establish that the HRDC domain stabilizes intrinsic, sequence-dependent, pauses of the core helicase (lacking the HRDC) in a DNA geometry-dependent manner. We elucidate the core unwinding mechanism in which the unwinding rate depends on the stability of the duplex DNA leading to transient sequence-dependent pauses. We further demonstrate a non-linear amplification of these transient pauses by the controlled binding of the HRDC domain. The resulting DNA sequence- and geometry-dependent pausing may underlie a homology sensing mechanism that allows rapid disruption of unstable (illegitimate) and stabilization of stable (legitimate) DNA strand invasions, which suggests an intrinsic mechanism of recombination quality control by RecQ helicases.