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Mol Microbiol. 1999 Jul;33(1):200-7.

ZntR is an autoregulatory protein and negatively regulates the chromosomal zinc resistance operon znt of Staphylococcus aureus.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4120, USA.


A chromosomally encoded znt operon of Staphylococcus aureus consists of two consecutive putative genes designated zntR and zntA. The zntA gene encodes a transmembrane protein that facilitates extrusion of Zn2+ and Co2+, whereas the zntR gene encodes a putative regulatory protein that controls the expression of the znt operon. The zntR gene was amplified using the polymerase chain reaction, cloned into Escherichia coli for overexpression as His-tagged ZntR and purified by Ni2+-affinity column. His-tag-free ZntR was purified to near homogeneity after digestion with enterokinase. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) indicated that the ZntR bound to a fragment of DNA corresponding to the chromosomal znt promoter region with an affinity of about 8.0 x 10-12 M. The addition of 25 microM Zn2+ or Co2+ in the binding reaction completely or significantly inhibited association of ZntR with the znt promoter. DNase I footprinting assays identified a ZntR binding site encompassing 49 nucleotides in the znt promoter region that contained repeated TGAA sequences. These sequences have been proposed to be the binding sites for SmtB, a metallorepressor protein from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus, to its corresponding operator/promoter. In vitro transcription assays, using S. aureus RNA polymerase, revealed that ZntR represses transcription from the znt promoter in a concentration-dependent fashion. The EMSAs, DNase I footprinting and in vitro transcription assays indicate that ZntR is a trans-acting repressor protein that binds to the znt promoter region and regulates its own transcription together with that of zntA.

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