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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Jun;80(12):3604-14.

Transcription of two adjacent carbohydrate utilization gene clusters in Bifidobacterium breve UCC2003 is controlled by LacI- and repressor open reading frame kinase (ROK)-type regulators.


Members of the genus Bifidobacterium are commonly found in the gastrointestinal tracts of mammals, including humans, where their growth is presumed to be dependent on various diet- and/or host-derived carbohydrates. To understand transcriptional control of bifidobacterial carbohydrate metabolism, we investigated two genetic carbohydrate utilization clusters dedicated to the metabolism of raffinose-type sugars and melezitose. Transcriptomic and gene inactivation approaches revealed that the raffinose utilization system is positively regulated by an activator protein, designated RafR. The gene cluster associated with melezitose metabolism was shown to be subject to direct negative control by a LacI-type transcriptional regulator, designated MelR1, in addition to apparent indirect negative control by means of a second LacI-type regulator, MelR2. In silico analysis, DNA-protein interaction, and primer extension studies revealed the MelR1 and MelR2 operator sequences, each of which is positioned just upstream of or overlapping the correspondingly regulated promoter sequences. Similar analyses identified the RafR binding operator sequence located upstream of the rafB promoter. This study indicates that transcriptional control of gene clusters involved in carbohydrate metabolism in bifidobacteria is subject to conserved regulatory systems, representing either positive or negative control.

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