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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Sep;37(5):1208-19.

ResD signal transduction regulator of aerobic respiration in Bacillus subtilis: ctaA promoter regulation.

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Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Department of Biological Sciences University of Illinois at Chicago, 900 S. Ashland Avenue (M/C 567), Chicago, IL 60607, USA.


A two-component signal transduction system composed of a sensor kinase, ResE, and a response regulator, ResD, encoded by resD and resE genes of the res operon (resABCDE), has a regulatory role in both aerobic and anaerobic respiration. In terms of aerobic respiration, resD functions upstream of ctaA, a gene required for haem A biogenesis and hence for the synthesis of haem A-containing cytochrome terminal oxidases. Although ResD is probably a transcription factor, there was no direct evidence that ResD protein, either phosphorylated or unphosphorylated, interacts directly with regulatory regions of ResD-controlled genes. Here, we report the overexpression and purification of ResD and ResE and their role in gene activation. ResD can be phosphorylated by ResE in vitro and is a monomer in solution in either the phosphorylated or unphosphorylated state. The binding activity of ResD to the ctaA promoter was examined by gel shift assays and DNase I footprinting assays. DNase I footprinting showed both unphosphorylated and phosphorylated ResD binding to the ctaA promoter and showed that there are three binding sites (A1, A2 and A3), two (A1 and A2) upstream of the -35 promoter region and one (A3) downstream of the -10 of the promoter. The role of each site in ctaA promoter activity and ResD binding was characterized using deletion analysis, followed by the DNase I footprinting and in vivo transcription assays of promoter-lacZ fusions. Our results showed that the concentration of ResD required to bind at each site is different and that ResD binding at the A1 site is independent of the other two ResD binding sites, but that the concentration of ResD approximately P required to protect site A2 is reduced when site A3 is present. In vivo transcription assays from promoter-lacZ fusion constructs showed that DNA containing ResD-binding site A2 was essential for promoter activity and that promoter constructs containing both binding sites A2 and A3 were sufficient for full promoter activity.

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