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Mol Microbiol. 2008 May;68(4):805-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06222.x.

Regulation of mycothiol metabolism by sigma(R) and the thiol redox sensor anti-sigma factor RsrA.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0314, USA.


Mycothiol (MSH) is the major thiol in Actinobacteria and plays a role analogous to that of glutathione. The biosynthetic pathway has been established in mycobacteria and is initiated by the glycosyltransferase MshA. A key mycothiol-dependent detoxification pathway utilizes the amidase (Mca) to cleave mycothiol S-conjugates to produce GlcN-Ins and a mercapturic acid excreted from the cell. How expression of mycothiol genes is regulated in mycobacteria has been unclear so the report in this issue by Park and Roe showing that in Streptomyces coelicolor the redox controlled anti-sigma factor RsrA that binds the regulator sigma(R) controls key elements of mycothiol metabolism is a major advance. Conditions that deplete thiols are shown to induce directly expression of sigR, rsrA, mshA and mca, as well as the thioredoxin reductase-thioredoxin system, generating an autoregulatory cycle that persists until the thiol-depleting condition is alleviated. Evidence for indirect induction of mshB-D to support mycothiol biosynthesis is also presented. It was shown in vitro that mycothiol, like reduced thioredoxin and dithiothreitol, can reduce oxidized RsrA to activate its binding to sigma(R). These studies establish for the first time how mycothiol metabolism is regulated to cope with stress from thiol reactive toxins.

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