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J Bacteriol. 2011 Sep;193(18):4849-58. doi: 10.1128/JB.05051-11. Epub 2011 Jul 15.

The residue threonine 82 of DevR (DosR) is essential for DevR activation and function in Mycobacterium tuberculosis despite its atypical location.

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Department of Biotechnology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi 110029, India.


The DevR (DosR) response regulator initiates the bacterial adaptive response to a variety of signals, including hypoxia in in vitro models of dormancy. Its receiver domain works as a phosphorylation-mediated switch to activate the DNA binding property of its output domain. Receiver domains are characterized by the presence of several highly conserved residues, and these sequence features correlate with structure and hence function. In response regulators, interaction of phosphorylated aspartic acid at the active site with the conserved threonine is believed to be crucial for phosphorylation-mediated conformational change. DevR contains all the conserved residues, but the structure of its receiver domain in the unphosphorylated protein is strikingly different, and key threonine (T82), tyrosine (Y101), and lysine (K104) residues are placed uncharacteristically far from the D54 phosphorylation site. In view of the atypical location of T82 in DevR, the present study aimed to examine the importance of this residue in the activation mechanism. Mycobacterium tuberculosis expressing a DevR T82A mutant protein is defective in autoregulation and supports hypoxic induction of the DevR regulon only very weakly. These defects are ascribed to slow and partial phosphorylation and the failure of T82A mutant protein to bind cooperatively with DNA. Our results indicate that the T82 residue is crucial in implementing conformational changes in DevR that are essential for cooperative binding and for subsequent gene activation. We propose that the function of the T82 residue in the activation mechanism of DevR is conserved in spite of the unusual architecture of its receiver domain.

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