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Metallomics. 2011 Jun;3(6):609-18. doi: 10.1039/c1mt00030f. Epub 2011 May 21.

Transcriptional response of Streptococcus pneumoniae to Zn2+) limitation and the repressor/activator function of AdcR.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 7, 9747 AG, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Zinc (Zn(2+)) is an important trace metal ion that has been shown to regulate the expression of several (virulence) genes in streptococci. Previously, we analyzed the genome-wide response of S. pneumoniae to Zn(2+)-stress. In this work, we have performed a transcriptomic analysis to identify genes that are differentially expressed under intracellular Zn(2+) limitation. This revealed a number of genes that are highly upregulated in the absence of extracellular Zn(2+), amongst which the genes belonging to the regulon of the Zn(2+)-responsive repressor AdcR, like adcBCA, encoding a Zn(2+)-dependent ABC-uptake system, adcAII, encoding a Zn(2+)-binding lipoprotein, and also virulence genes belonging to the Pht family (phtA, phtB, phtD and phtE). Using transcriptome analysis, lacZ-reporter studies, in vitro DNA binding experiments, and in silico operator predictions, we show that AdcR directly represses the promoters of adcRCBA, adcAII-phtD, phtA, phtB and phtE in the presence of Zn(2+). AdcR can also function as an activator, since in the presence of Zn(2+) it directly induces expression of adh that encodes a Zn(2+)-containing alcohol dehydrogenase. In conclusion, the genome-wide transcriptional response of S. pneumoniae to Zn(2+) limitation was established, which is mainly mediated via direct regulation by the Zn(2+)-dependent regulator AdcR.

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