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Role of oxyR from Sinorhizobium meliloti in regulating the expression of catalases.

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National Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200032, China.


The process of symbiotic nitrogen fixation results in the generation of reactive oxygen species such as the superoxide anion (O2-) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The response of rhizobia to these toxic oxygen species is an important factor in nodulation and nitrogen fixation. In Sinorhizobium meliloti, one oxyR homologue and three catalase genes, katA, katB, and katC were detected by sequence analysis. This oxyR gene is located next to and divergently from katA on the chromosome. To investigate the possible roles of oxyR in regulating the expression of catalases at the transcriptional level in S. meliloti, an insertion mutant of this gene was constructed. The mutant was more sensitive and less adaptive to H2O2 than the wild type strain, and total catalase/peroxidase activity was reduced approximately fourfold with the OxyR mutation relative to controls. The activities of KatA and KatB and the expression of katA::lacZ and katB::lacZ promoter fusions were increased in the mutant strain compared with the parental strain grown in the absence of H2O2, indicating that katA and katB are repressed by OxyR. However, when exposed to H2O2, katA expression was also increased in both S. meliloti and Escherichia coli. When exposed to H2O2, OxyR is converted from a reduced to an oxidized form in E. coli. We concluded that the reduced form of OxyR functions as a repressor of katA and katB expression. Thus, in the presence of H2O2, reduced OxyR is converted to the oxidized form of OxyR that then results in increased katA expression. We further showed that oxyR expression is autoregulated via negative feedback.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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