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J Mol Biol. 2008 Jul 4;380(2):278-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.05.015. Epub 2008 May 13.

Activation of the Escherichia coli marA/soxS/rob regulon in response to transcriptional activator concentration.

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1
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0560, USA. rgmartin@helix.nih.gov

Abstract

The paralogous transcriptional activators MarA, SoxS, and Rob activate a common set of promoters, the marA/soxS/rob regulon of Escherichia coli, by binding a cognate site (marbox) upstream of each promoter. The extent of activation varies from one promoter to another and is only poorly correlated with the in vitro affinity of the activator for the specific marbox. Here, we examine the dependence of promoter activation on the level of activator in vivo by manipulating the steady-state concentrations of MarA and SoxS in Lon protease mutants and by measuring promoter activation using lacZ transcriptional fusions. We found that: (i) the MarA concentrations needed for half-maximal stimulation varied by at least 19-fold among the 10 promoters tested; (ii) most marboxes were not saturated when there were 24,000 molecules of MarA per cell; (iii) the correlation between the MarA concentration needed for half-maximal promoter activity in vivo and marbox binding affinity in vitro was poor; and (iv) the two activators differed in their promoter activation profiles. The marRAB and sodA promoters could both be saturated by MarA and SoxS in vivo. However, saturation by MarA resulted in greater marRAB and lesser sodA transcription than did saturation by SoxS, implying that the two activators interact with RNA polymerase in different ways at the different promoters. Thus, the concentration and nature of activator determine which regulon promoters are activated, as well as the extent of their activation.

PMID:
18514222
PMCID:
PMC2614912
DOI:
10.1016/j.jmb.2008.05.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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