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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Oct;38(2):335-47.

The CtsR regulator of stress response is active as a dimer and specifically degraded in vivo at 37 degrees C.

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Unité de Biochimie Microbienne, URA 2172 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut Pasteur, 25, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.


CtsR (class three stress gene repressor) negatively regulates the expression of class III heat shock genes (clpP, clpE and the clpC operon) by binding to a directly repeated heptanucleotide operator sequence (A/GGTCAAA NAN A/GGTCAAA). CtsR-dependent genes are expressed at a low level at 37 degrees C and are strongly induced under heat shock conditions. We performed a structure/function analysis of the CtsR protein, which is highly conserved among low G+C Gram-positive bacteria. Random chemical mutagenesis, in vitro cross-linking, in vivo co-expression of wild-type and mutant forms of CtsR and the construction of chimeric proteins with the DNA-binding domain of the lambda CI repressor allowed us to identify three different functional domains within CtsR: a helix-turn-helix DNA-binding domain, a dimerization domain and a putative heat-sensing domain. We provide evidence suggesting that CtsR is active as a dimer. Transcriptional analysis of a clpP'-bgaB fusion and/or Western blotting experiments using antibodies directed against the CtsR protein indicate that ClpP and ClpX are involved in CtsR degradation at 37 degrees C. This in turn leads to a low steady-state level of CtsR within the cell, as CtsR negatively autoregulates its own synthesis. This is the first example of degradation of a repressor of stress response genes by the Clp ATP-dependent protease.

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