Gre-family factors modulate DNA damage sensing by Deinococcus radiodurans RNA polymerase

Deinococcus radiodurans is a highly stress resistant bacterium that encodes universal as well as lineage-specific factors involved in DNA transcription and repair. However, the effects of DNA lesions on RNA synthesis by D. radiodurans RNA polymerase (RNAP) have never been studied. We investigated the ability of this RNAP to transcribe damaged DNA templates and demonstrated that various lesions significantly affect the efficiency and fidelity of RNA synthesis. DNA modifications that disrupt correct base-pairing can strongly inhibit transcription and increase nucleotide misincorporation by D. radiodurans RNAP. The universal transcription factor GreA and Deinococcus-specific factor Gfh1 stimulate RNAP stalling at various DNA lesions, depending on the type of the lesion and the presence of Mn2+ ions, abundant divalent cations in D. radiodurans. Furthermore, Gfh1 stimulates the action of the Mfd translocase, which removes transcription elongation complexes paused at the sites of DNA lesions. Thus, Gre-family factors in D. radiodurans might have evolved to increase the efficiency of DNA damage recognition by the transcription and repair machineries in this bacterium.