The architecture of the genome influences the functions of DNA from bacteria to eukaryotes. Intrinsically disordered regions (IDR) of eukaryotic histones have pivotal roles in various processes of gene expression. IDR is rare in bacteria, but interestingly, mycobacteria produce a unique histone-like protein, MDP1 that contains a long C-terminal IDR. Here we analyzed the role of IDR in MDP1 function. By employing Mycobacterium smegmatis that inducibly expresses MDP1 or its IDR-deficient mutant, we observed that MDP1 induces IDR-dependent DNA compaction. MDP1-IDR is also responsible for the induction of growth arrest and tolerance to isoniazid, a front line tuberculosis drug that kills growing but not growth-retardated mycobacteria. We demonstrated that MDP1-deficiency and conditional knock out of MDP1 cause spreading of the M. smegmatis genome in the stationary phase. This study thus demonstrates for the first time a C-terminal region-dependent organization of the genome architecture by MDP1, implying the significance of IDR in the function of bacterial histone-like protein.
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