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J Bacteriol. 2012 Mar;194(6):1361-8. doi: 10.1128/JB.06746-11. Epub 2012 Jan 13.

CtsR regulation in mcsAB-deficient Gram-positive bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Immunology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas, USA.


CtsR is an important repressor that modulates the transcription of class III stress genes in Gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis, a model Gram-positive organism, the DNA binding activity of CtsR is regulated by McsAB-mediated phosphorylation of the protein where phosphorylated CtsR is a substrate for degradation by the ClpCP complex. Surprisingly, the mcsAB genes are absent from many Gram-positive bacteria, including streptococci; therefore, how CtsR activity is modulated in those bacteria remains unknown. Here we show that the posttranslational modulation of CtsR activity is different in Streptococcus mutans, a dental pathogen. We observed that of all of the Clp-related proteins, only ClpL is involved in the degradation of CtsR. Neither ClpP nor ClpC had any effect on the degradation of CtsR. We also found that phosphorylation of CtsR on a conserved arginine residue within the winged helix-turn-helix domain is necessary for modulation of the repressor activity of CtsR, as demonstrated by both in vitro and in vivo assays. We speculate that CtsR is regulated posttranslationally by a different mechanism in S. mutans and possibly in other streptococci.

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