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J Mol Biol. 2007 Jun 1;369(2):322-33. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

AfsR recruits RNA polymerase to the afsS promoter: a model for transcriptional activation by SARPs.

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Department of Biotechnology, Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8657, Japan.


AfsR, a protein belonging to the Streptomyces antibiotic regulatory protein (SARP) family, is a global regulator of secondary metabolism in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). AfsR consists of three major functional domains: an N-terminal SARP domain, a central ATPase domain, and a C-terminal tetratrico peptide repeat (TPR) domain. Two truncated AfsR proteins, AfsRDeltaTPR containing the SARP and ATPase domains and AfsRDeltaC containing only the SARP domain, exhibited the same DNA-binding specificity as that of full-length AfsR. Two monomers bound cooperatively to a direct repeat located eight nucleotides 5' to the -10 element of the afsS promoter. Both truncated AfsR proteins, as well as full-length AfsR, were able to form ternary complexes with the afsS promoter and RNA polymerase (RNAP), although RNAP alone could not bind to the DNA. The DNA-(AfsRDeltaC)(2)-RNAP complex was capable of initiating afsS transcription in vitro, indicating that the ATPase and TPR domains are dispensable for the basic function of AfsR as a transcriptional activator. However, the ATPase domain was required to fully compensate for the defect in actinorhodin production in an afsR-disrupted mutant, suggesting that the ATPase domain exerts a regulatory function on the basic SARP domain. Deletion or addition of even a single nucleotide between the AfsR-binding site and the -10 element of the afsS promoter abolished afsS transcription both in vitro and in vivo, indicating that the recruitment of RNAP by AfsR to the correct location relative to the -10 element is critical for transcriptional activation. Since SARP-binding sites with similar direct repeats are located at the same position relative to the -10 element of their target promoters as is the afsS binding site, the SARP family members presumably activate transcription of their targets by recruiting RNAP to the promoter, where a ternary DNA-SARP-RNAP complex competent for transcriptional initiation is formed.

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