K. Jiang, C. Zhang, D. Guttula, F. Liu, J.A. van Kan, C.Lavelle, K. Kubiak, A. Malabirade, A. Lapp, V.Arluison, and J.R.C. van der Maarel, Nucleic Acids Research, 43(8) (2015) 4332.
Hfq is a bacterial pleiotropic regulator that mediates several aspects of nucleic acids metabolism. The protein notably influences translation and turnover of cellular RNAs. Although most previous contributions concentrated on Hfq’s interaction with RNA, its association to DNA has also been observed in vitro and in vivo. Here, we focus on DNA-compacting properties of Hfq. Various experimental technologies, including fluorescence microscopy imaging of single DNA molecules confined inside nanofluidic channels, atomic force microscopy and small angle neutron scattering have been used to follow the assembly of Hfq on DNA. Our results show that Hfq forms a nucleoprotein complex, changes the mechanical properties of the double helix and compacts DNA into a condensed form. We propose a compaction mechanism based on protein-mediated bridging of DNA segments. The propensity for bridging is presumably related to multi-arm functionality of the Hfq hexamer, resulting frombinding of the C-terminal domains to the duplex. Results are discussed in regard to previous results obtained for H-NS, with important implications for protein binding related gene regulation.