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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Aug;37(3):561-73.

Characterization of the 2-ketogluconate utilization operon in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX 79430, USA.


The Pseudomonas aeruginosa protein PtxS negatively regulates its own synthesis by binding to the upstream region of its gene. We have recently identified a 14 bp palindromic sequence within the ptxS upstream region as the PtxS operator site (OP1). In this study, we searched the P. aeruginosa genomic sequence to determine whether this 14 bp sequence exists in other regions of the P. aeruginosa chromosome. Another PtxS operator site (OP2) was located 47 bp downstream of ptxS. DNA gel shift experiments confirmed that PtxS specifically binds to a 520 bp fragment that carries OP2. The DNA segment 3' of OP2 contains four open reading frames (ORF1-ORF4), which code for 29, 32, 48 and 35 kDa proteins respectively. The molecular weight of the products of ORFs 2 and 3 were confirmed by T7 expression experiments. Computer analyses suggest that ORF2 encodes an ATP-dependent kinase; ORF3, a transporter; and ORF4, a dehydrogenase. The predicted product of ORF1 showed no homology to previously identified proteins and contains all the conserved amino acids within the aldose 1-epimerase protein motif. Examination of the ptxs-ORF1 intergenic region (using promoter fusion experiments) showed that no potential promoter exists. An isogenic mutant defective in ORF1 was constructed in the P. aeruginosa strain PAO1. In contrast to its parent strain, the mutant failed to grow on a minimal medium in which 2-ketogluconate was the sole carbon source. Similarly, a previously constructed ptxS isogenic mutant of PAO1 did not grow in a minimal medium containing 2-ketogluconate as the sole carbon source. Furthermore, a plasmid carrying a fragment that contains ptxS and ORFs 1-4 complemented the defect of the previously described P. aeruginosa 2-ketogluconate-negative mutant. In the presence of 10 mM 2-ketogluconate, the in vitro binding of PtxS to a DNA fragment that carries either OP1 or OP2 was inhibited. These results suggest that: (i) ptxS together with the other four ORFs constitute the 2-ketogluconate utilization operon (kgu) in P. aeruginosa. Therefore, ORFs 1-4 were designated kguE, kguK, kguT and kguD respectively. (ii) PtxS regulates the expression of the kgu operon by binding to two operators (OP1 and OP2) within the operon; and (iii) 2-ketogluconate is the molecular inducer of the kgu operon or the molecular effector of PtxS.

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