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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Mar;43(6):1577-89.

ToxR interferes with CRP-dependent transcriptional activation of ompT in Vibrio cholerae.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore 21201, USA.


In pathogenic Vibrio cholerae, the transmembrane DNA-binding protein ToxR co-ordinates the expression of over 20 genes, including those encoding important virulence factors such as cholera toxin and the toxin-co-regulated pilus. The outer membrane protein OmpT is the only member of the ToxR regulon known to be repressed by ToxR. In this study, we examined the environmental conditions that regulate OmpT expression and demonstrated that ompT transcription is upregulated 14-fold when the bacteria enter late log phase from early log phase. Deletion of the crp gene completely abolishes OmpT expression. Comparison of ompT transcription levels in the isogenic crp-, toxR- and crp-toxR- mutants revealed that (i) in the absence of ToxR, constitutive high-level ompT transcription is dependent on cAMP receptor protein (CRP); (ii) ToxR not only interferes with CRP-dependent ompT activation, but also abolishes the CRP-independent, basal level ompT transcription; thus, the mechanism by which ToxR represses ompT transcription involves both antiactivation and direct repression; (iii) both CRP and ToxR are required for the regulation of OmpT expression by growth phase. To provide further insights into the molecular mecha-nism of CRP-dependent activation of ompT transcription, we demonstrated that CRP-dependent activation requires a CRP binding site centred at -310 of the ompT promoter, without which the interaction of CRP with other CRP binding site(s) more proximal to the promoter results in repression. Mutations in two regions on CRP (AR1 and AR2) that directly contact RNA polymerase (RNAP) abolish activation, suggesting direct interaction of CRP with RNAP from -310 of the ompT promoter via DNA looping.

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