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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007;12(1-2):60-6.

Conserved cis-acting elements upstream of genes composing the chitinolytic system of streptomycetes are DasR-responsive elements.

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Centre d'Ingénierie des Protéines, Université de Liège, Institut de Chimie B6a, Liège, Belgium.


For soil-dwelling bacteria that usually live in a carbon-rich and nitrogen-poor environment, the ability to utilize chitin - the second most abundant polysaccharide on earth - is a decisive evolving advantage as it is a source for both elements. Streptomycetes are high-GC Gram-positive soil bacteria that are equipped with a broad arsenal of chitinase-degrading genes. These genes are induced when the streptomycetes sense the presence of chitooligosaccharides. Their expression is repressed as soon as more readily assimilated carbon sources become available. This includes for example glucose or N-acetylglucosamine, the monomer subunit of chitin. Historically, the first cis-acting elements involved in carbon regulation in streptomycetes were found more than a decade ago upstream of chitinase genes, but the transcriptional regulator had so far remained undiscovered. In this work, we show that these cis-acting elements consist of inverted repeats with multiple occurrences and are bound by the HutC/GntR type regulator DasR. We have therefore designated these sites as DasR-responsive elements (dre). DasR, which is also the repressor of the genes for the N-acetylglucosamine-specific phosphotransferase transport system, should therefore play a critical role in sensing the balance between the monomeric and polymeric forms of N-acetylglucosamine.

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