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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Jul;69(2):418-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06291.x.

PigZ, a TetR/AcrR family repressor, modulates secondary metabolism via the expression of a putative four-component resistance-nodulation-cell-division efflux pump, ZrpADBC, in Serratia sp. ATCC 39006.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1QW, UK.


The Gram-negative enterobacterium, Serratia sp. ATCC 39006 synthesizes several secondary metabolites, including prodigiosin (Pig) and a carbapenem antibiotic (Car). A complex hierarchical network of regulatory proteins control Pig and Car production. In this study we characterize a TetR family regulator, PigZ, which represses transcription of a divergently transcribed putative resistance-nodulation-cell-division (RND) efflux pump, encoded by zrp (PigZ repressed pump) ADBC, via direct binding to the zrpA-pigZ intergenic region. Unusually, this putative RND pump contains two predicted membrane fusion proteins (MFPs), ZrpA and ZrpD. A mutation in pigZ resulted in multiple phenotypic changes, including exoenzyme production, motility and differential regulation of Pig and Car production. A polar suppressor mutation, within zrpA, restored all tested phenotypes to parental strain levels, indicating that the changes observed are due to the increase in expression of ZrpADBC in the absence of the repressor, PigZ. Genomic deletions of zrpA and zrpD indicate that the MFP ZrpD, but not ZrpA, is essential for activity of the putative pump. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that putative RND efflux pumps encoding two MFP components are not uncommon, particularly among plant-associated, Gram-negative bacteria. In addition, based on phylogenetic analysis, we propose that these pairs of MFPs consist of two distinct subtypes.

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