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The impact of replication-transcription conflicts on bacterial pathogenesis


Project Summary The replication and transcription machineries function simultaneously and on the same DNA template.The coupling of these two processes leads to collisions that stall the replisome and promote mutagenesis. Ourrecent discovery suggests that collisions are particularly prevalent and disruptive during infections, and thattheir resolution is essential for the survival of bacterial pathogens inside eukaryotic hosts. Therefore,determining the molecular mechanisms underlying the detrimental consequences of collisions and theirsubsequent resolution is essential to our understanding of the fundamental principles governing bacterialpathogenesis. We recently determined that collisions promote R-loop formation and that these structures are primarilyresponsible for the detrimental outcomes of these encounters. Accordingly, we found that the highly conservedR-loop processing enzyme RNase HIII is essential for cells to tolerate severe collisions. Preliminary evidence Ihave gathered suggests that key virulence genes are collision hotspots and maybe particularly prone to R-loopformation. If so, then RNase HIII is a previously unappreciated yet critical virulence factor. Here, I propose toinvestigate this phenomenon using the model pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. Specifically, I will determine how collisions and subsequent RNase HIII activity impact pathogenreplication inside eukaryotic cells. Using genome-wide deep sequencing approaches, I will map chromosomalhotspots of R-loop formation and the impact of these structures on DNA replication, as well as transcription,during pathogenesis. Furthermore, using deep mutational scanning, I will interrogate RNase HIII function invivo. Altogether, this work will deepen our understanding of the basic biological mechanisms driving bacterialpathogenesis.

Lang, Kevin Stuart
Vanderbilt University
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