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J Bacteriol. 1999 Apr;181(7):2102-9.

BadR, a new MarR family member, regulates anaerobic benzoate degradation by Rhodopseudomonas palustris in concert with AadR, an Fnr family member.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


A cluster of genes for the anaerobic degradation of benzoate has been described for the phototrophic bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris. Here we provide an initial analysis of the regulation of anaerobic benzoate degradation by examining the contributions of two regulators: a new regulator, BadR, encoded by the benzoate degradation gene cluster, and a previously described regulator, AadR, whose gene lies outside the cluster. Strains with single mutations in either badR or aadR grew slowly on benzoate but were relatively unimpaired in growth on succinate and several intermediates of benzoate degradation. A badR aadR double mutant was completely defective in anaerobic growth on benzoate. Effects of the regulators on transcriptional activation were monitored with an R. palustris strain carrying a chromosomal fusion of 'lacZ to the badE gene of the badDEFG operon. This operon encodes benzoyl-coenzyme A (benzoyl-CoA) reductase, an unusual oxygen-sensitive enzyme that catalyzes the benzene ring reduction reaction that is the rate-limiting step in anaerobic benzoate degradation. Expression of badE::'lacZ was induced 100-fold when cells grown aerobically on succinate were shifted to anaerobic growth on succinate plus benzoate. The aadR gene was required for a 20-fold increase in expression that occurred in response to anaerobiosis, and badR was responsible for a further 5-fold increase in expression that occurred in response to benzoate. Further studies with the badE::'lacZ fusion strain grown with various kinds of aromatic acids indicated that BadR probably responds to benzoyl-CoA acting as an effector molecule. Sequence information indicates that BadR is a member of the MarR family of transcriptional regulators. These studies expand the range of functions regulated by MarR family members to include anaerobic aromatic acid degradation and provide an example of a MarR-type protein that acts as a positive regulator rather than as a negative regulator, as do most MarR family members. AadR resembles the Escherichia coli Fnr regulator in sequence and contains cysteine residues that are spaced appropriately to serve in the capacity of a redox-sensing protein.

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