Rizvanovic A, Kjellin J, Söderbom F, Holmqvist E
Nucleic Acids Res. 49 (17) 9992-10006 [2021-09-27; online 2021-08-28]
The global RNA-binding protein ProQ has emerged as a central player in post-transcriptional regulatory networks in bacteria. While the N-terminal domain (NTD) of ProQ harbors the major RNA-binding activity, the role of the ProQ C-terminal domain (CTD) has remained unclear. Here, we have applied saturation mutagenesis coupled to phenotypic sorting and long-read sequencing to chart the regulatory capacity of Salmonella ProQ. Parallel monitoring of thousands of ProQ mutants allowed mapping of critical residues in both the NTD and the CTD, while the linker separating these domains was tolerant to mutations. Single amino acid substitutions in the NTD associated with abolished regulatory capacity strongly align with RNA-binding deficiency. An observed cellular instability of ProQ associated with mutations in the NTD suggests that interaction with RNA protects ProQ from degradation. Mutation of conserved CTD residues led to overstabilization of RNA targets and rendered ProQ inert in regulation, without affecting protein stability in vivo. Furthermore, ProQ lacking the CTD, although binding competent, failed to protect an mRNA target from degradation. Together, our data provide a comprehensive overview of residues important for ProQ-dependent regulation and reveal an essential role for the enigmatic ProQ CTD in gene regulation.