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J Biol Chem. 2010 May 21;285(21):15816-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.040097. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis origin of replication and the promoter for immunodominant secreted antigen 85B are the targets of MtrA, the essential response regulator.

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Biomedical Research, University of Texas Health Science Center, Tyler, Texas 75708-3154, USA.


Efficient proliferation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) inside macrophage requires that the essential response regulator MtrA be optimally phosphorylated. However, the genomic targets of MtrA have not been identified. We show by chromatin immunoprecipitation and DNase I footprinting that the chromosomal origin of replication, oriC, and the promoter for the major secreted immunodominant antigen Ag85B, encoded by fbpB, are MtrA targets. DNase I footprinting analysis revealed that MtrA recognizes two direct repeats of GTCACAgcg-like sequences and that MtrA approximately P, the phosphorylated form of MtrA, binds preferentially to these targets. The oriC contains several MtrA motifs, and replacement of all motifs or of a single select motif with TATATA compromises the ability of oriC plasmids to maintain stable autonomous replication in wild type and MtrA-overproducing strains, indicating that the integrity of the MtrA motif is necessary for oriC replication. The expression of the fbpB gene is found to be down-regulated in Mtb cells upon infection when these cells overproduce wild type MtrA but not when they overproduce a nonphosphorylated MtrA, indicating that MtrA approximately P regulates fbpB expression. We propose that MtrA is a regulator of oriC replication and that the ability of MtrA to affect apparently unrelated targets, i.e. oriC and fbpB, reflects its main role as a coordinator between the proliferative and pathogenic functions of Mtb.

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