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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 2010 Aug;98(2):225-36. doi: 10.1007/s10482-010-9443-3. Epub 2010 Apr 20.

The complex whiJ locus mediates environmentally sensitive repression of development of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2).

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney, Norwich NR4 7UH, UK.


A segment of DNA was isolated that complemented several poorly characterised sporulation-defective white-colony mutants of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) from an early collection (Hopwood et al., J Gen Microbiol 61: 397-408, 1970). Complementation was attributable to a gene, SCO4543, named whiJ, encoding a likely DNA-binding protein. Surprisingly, although some mutations in whiJ had a white colony phenotype, complete deletion of the wild-type or mutant gene gave a wild-type morphology. The whiJ gene is a member of a large paralogous set of S. coelicolor genes including abaAorfA, which regulates antibiotic production; and genes flanking whiJ are paralogues of other gene classes that are often associated with whiJ-like genes (Gehring et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97: 9642-9647, 2000). Thus, the small gene SCO4542 encodes a paralogue of the abaAorfD gene product, and SCO4544 encodes a paralogue of a family of likely anti-sigma factors (including the product of abaAorfB). Deletion of SCO4542 resulted in a medium-dependent bald- or white-colony phenotype, which could be completely suppressed by the simultaneous deletion of whiJ. A model is proposed in which WhiJ binds to operator sequences to repress developmental genes, with repression being released by interaction with the WhiJ-associated SCO4542 protein. It is suggested that this activity of SCO4542 protein is prevented by an unknown signal.

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