Multiple classes and isoforms of the RNA polymerase recycling motor protein HelD

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Efficient control of transcription is essential in all organisms. In bacteria, where DNA replication and transcription occur simultaneously, the replication machinery is at risk of colliding with highly abundant transcription complexes. This can be exacerbated by the fact that transcription complexes pause frequently. When pauses are long-lasting, the stalled complexes must be removed to prevent collisions with either another transcription complex or the replication machinery. HelD is a protein that represents a new class of ATP-dependent motor proteins distantly related to helicases. It was first identified in the model Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis and is involved in removing and recycling stalled transcription complexes. To date, two classes of HelD have been identified: one in the low G+C and the other in the high G+C Gram-positive bacteria. In this work, we have undertaken the first comprehensive investigation of the phylogenetic diversity of HelD proteins. We show that genes in certain bacterial classes have been inherited by horizontal gene transfer, many organisms contain multiple expressed isoforms of HelD, some of which are associated with antibiotic resistance, and that there is a third class of HelD protein found in Gram-negative bacteria. In summary, HelD proteins represent an important new class of transcription factors associated with genome maintenance and antibiotic resistance that are conserved across the Eubacterial kingdom.

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Australian Research Council



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