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J Mol Biol. 2008 Jun 27;380(1):107-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.04.039. Epub 2008 Apr 22.

Structural mechanism of transcriptional autorepression of the Escherichia coli RelB/RelE antitoxin/toxin module.

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Division of Signaling Biology, Ontario Cancer Institute and Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The Escherichia coli chromosomal relBE operon encodes a toxin-antitoxin system, which is autoregulated by its protein products, RelB and RelE. RelB acts as a transcriptional repressor and RelE functions as a cofactor to enhance the repressor activity of RelB. Here, we present the NMR-derived structure of a RelB dimer and show that a RelB dimer recognizes a hexad repeat in the palindromic operator region through a ribbon-helix-helix motif. Our biochemical data show that two weakly associated RelB dimers bind to the adjacent repeats in the 3'-site of the operator (O(R)) at a moderate affinity (K(d), approximately 10(-5) M). However, in the presence of RelE, a RelB tetramer binds two distinct binding sites within the operator region, each with an enhanced affinity (K(d), approximately 10(-6) M for the low-affinity site, O(L), and 10(-8) M for the high-affinity site, O(R)). We propose that the enhanced affinity for the operator element is mediated by a cooperative DNA binding by a pair of RelB dimers and that the interaction between RelB dimers is strongly augmented by the presence of the cognate toxin RelE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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