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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 13;287(16):13500-7. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.346205. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

MarR-type transcriptional regulator ChlR activates expression of tetrapyrrole biosynthesis genes in response to low-oxygen conditions in cyanobacteria.

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Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


Oxygen is required for three enzyme reactions in chlorophyll and bilin biosynthesis pathways: coproporphyrinogen III oxidase (HemF), heme oxygenase (HO1), and Mg-protoporphyrin IX monomethylester cyclase (ChlA(I)). The cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 has alternative enzymes, HemN, HO2, and ChlA(II), to supply chlorophyll/bilins even under low-oxygen environments. The three genes form an operon, chlA(II)-ho2-hemN, that is induced in response to low-oxygen conditions to bypass the oxygen-dependent reactions. Here we identified a transcriptional regulator for the induction of the operon in response to low-oxygen conditions. A pseudorevertant, Δho1R, was isolated from a HO1-lacking mutant Δho1 that is lethal under aerobic conditions. Δho1R grew well even under aerobic conditions. In Δho1R, HO2 that is induced only under low-oxygen conditions was anomalously expressed under aerobic conditions to complement the loss of HO1. A G-to-C transversion in sll1512 causing the amino acid change from aspartate 35 to histidine was identified as the relevant mutation by resequencing of the Δho1R genome. Sll1512 is a MarR-type transcriptional regulator. An sll1512-lacking mutant grew poorly under low-oxygen conditions with a remarked decrease in Chl content that would be caused by the suppressed induction of the chlA(II) and hemN genes in Chl biosynthesis under low-oxygen conditions. These results demonstrated that Sll1512 is an activator in response to low-oxygen environments and that the D35H variant becomes a constitutive activator. This hypothesis was supported by a gel shift assay showing that the Sll1512-D35H variant binds to the DNA fragment upstream of the operon. We propose to name sll1512 chlR.

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