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J Bacteriol. Oct 1994; 176(19): 5971–5981.
PMCID: PMC196814

FlbD has a DNA-binding activity near its carboxy terminus that recognizes ftr sequences involved in positive and negative regulation of flagellar gene transcription in Caulobacter crescentus.

Abstract

FlbD is a transcriptional regulatory protein that negatively autoregulates fliF, and it is required for expression of other Caulobacter crescentus flagellar genes, including flaN and flbG. In this report we have investigated the interaction between carboxy-terminal fragments of FlbD protein and enhancer-like ftr sequences in the promoter regions of fliF, flaN, and flbG. FlbDc87 is a glutathione S-transferase (GST)-FlbD fusion protein that carries the carboxy-terminal 87 amino acids of FlbD, and FlbDc87 binds to restriction fragments containing the promoter regions of fliF, flaN, and flbG, whereas a GST-FlbD fusion protein carrying the last 48 amino acids of FlbD failed to bind to these promoter regions. DNA footprint analysis demonstrated that FlbDc87 is a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein that makes close contact with 11 nucleotides in ftr4, and 6 of these nucleotides were shown previously to function in negative regulation of fliF transcription in vivo (S. M. Van Way, A. Newton, A. H. Mullin, and D. A. Mullin, J. Bacteriol. 175:367-376, 1993). Three DNA fragments, each carrying an ftr4 mutation that resulted in elevated fliF transcript levels in vivo, were defective in binding to FlbDc87 in vitro. We also found that a missense mutation in the recognition helix of the putative helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif of FlbDc87 resulted in defective binding to ftr4 in vitro. These data suggest that the binding of FlbDc87 to ftr4 is relevant to negative transcriptional regulation of fliF and that FlbD functions directly as a repressor. Footprint analysis showed that FlbDc87 also makes close contacts with specific nucleotides in ftr1, ftr2, and ftr3 in the flaN-flbG promoter region, and some of these nucleotides were shown previously to be required for regulated transcription of flaN and flbG (D. A. Mullin and A. Newton, J. Bacteriol. 175:2067-2076, 1993). Footprint analysis also revealed a new ftr-like sequence, ftr5, at -136 from the transcription start site of flbG. Our results demonstrate that FlbD contains a sequence-specific DNA-binding activity within the 87 amino acids at its carboxy terminus, and the results suggest that FlbD exerts its effect as a positive and negative regulator of C. crescentus flagellar genes by binding to ftr sequences.

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