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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Jun;40(6):1289-99.

AraC/XylS family members, HilC and HilD, directly bind and derepress the Salmonella typhimurium hilA promoter.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


During infection, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium colonizes the small intestine of its hosts. This process requires a type III secretion system encoded by several genes on Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI1), a 40 kb region of DNA near centisome 63 of the Salmonella chromosome. SPI1 gene expression is controlled by a complex regulatory cascade. HilA, a member of the OmpR/ToxR family of transcriptional regulators, directly activates the expression of two SPI1 operons encoding type III apparatus components. hilA transcription is repressed by many environmental conditions and regulatory mutations. This repression requires an upstream repressing sequence (URS) located between -314 and -68 relative to the hilA transcription start site. The repressing activity of the URS is counteracted by two AraC/XylS family members named HilC and HilD. We show that HilC and HilD bind directly to the hilA promoter region in vitro. We also provide evidence that HilC and HilD bind to the same or overlapping sites within the URS. Our data are consistent with a model in which HilC and HilD derepress hilA expression by binding directly to the URS and counteracting its repressing effect in vivo.

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