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J Mol Biol. 2004 Jan 9;335(2):425-35.

Redox-dependent changes in RsrA, an anti-sigma factor in Streptomyces coelicolor: zinc release and disulfide bond formation.

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School of Biological Sciences and Institute of Microbiology, Seoul National University, 151-742, Seoul, South Korea.


sigmaR is a sigma factor for transcribing genes to defend cells against oxidative stresses in the antibiotic-producing bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. The availability of sigmaR is regulated by RsrA, an anti-sigma factor, whose sigmaR-binding activity is regulated by redox changes in the environment, via thiol-disulfide exchange. We found that reduced RsrA contains zinc in a stoichiometric amount, whereas oxidized form has very little: 1 mol of zinc per mol of RsrA was released upon oxidation as monitored by a chromogenic Zn-chelator, 4-(2-pyridylazo)-resorcinol (PAR). Measurement of zinc bound in several RsrA mutants of various cysteine and histidine substitutions suggested that C3, H7, C41, and C44 serve as zinc-binding sites. The zinc-binding and sigmaR-binding activities of mutant proteins did not coincide, suggesting that zinc might not be absolutely required for the anti-sigma activity of RsrA. Zn-free apo-RsrA bound sigmaR and inhibited sigmaR-dependent transcription in vitro. Compared with Zn-RsrA, the anti-transcription activity of apo-RsrA was about threefold lower and its sigmaR-binding affinity decreased by about ninefold when measured by surface plasmon resonance analysis. Apo-RsrA was more sensitive to protease, suggesting that zinc allows RsrA to maintain a more compact structure, optimized for binding sigmaR. The cysteine pairs that form disulfide bonds were determined by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, revealing formation of the critical disulfide bond between C11 and one of the essential cysteine residues C41 or 44, most likely C44. An improved model for the mechanism of redox-modulation of RsrA was presented.

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