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J Biol Chem. 2015 Jan 30;290(5):2630-43. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M114.618199. Epub 2014 Dec 5.

The β-lactamase gene regulator AmpR is a tetramer that recognizes and binds the D-Ala-D-Ala motif of its repressor UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid (MurNAc)-pentapeptide.

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From the Departments of Microbiology.
Chemistry, and.
Physics and Astronomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N2, Canada and.
the Department of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada.
From the Departments of Microbiology,


Inducible expression of chromosomal AmpC β-lactamase is a major cause of β-lactam antibiotic resistance in the Gram-negative bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae. AmpC expression is induced by the LysR-type transcriptional regulator (LTTR) AmpR, which activates ampC expression in response to changes in peptidoglycan (PG) metabolite levels that occur during exposure to β-lactams. Under normal conditions, AmpR represses ampC transcription by binding the PG precursor UDP-N-acetylmuramic acid (MurNAc)-pentapeptide. When exposed to β-lactams, however, PG catabolites (1,6-anhydroMurNAc-peptides) accumulate in the cytosol, which have been proposed to competitively displace UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide from AmpR and convert it into an activator of ampC transcription. Here we describe the molecular interactions between AmpR (from Citrobacter freundii), its DNA operator, and repressor UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide. Non-denaturing mass spectrometry revealed AmpR to be a homotetramer that is stabilized by DNA containing the T-N11-A LTTR binding motif and revealed that it can bind four repressor molecules in an apparently stepwise manner. A crystal structure of the AmpR effector-binding domain bound to UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide revealed that the terminal D-Ala-D-Ala motif of the repressor forms the primary contacts with the protein. This observation suggests that 1,6-anhydroMurNAc-pentapeptide may convert AmpR into an activator of ampC transcription more effectively than 1,6-anhydroMurNAc-tripeptide (which lacks the D-Ala-D-Ala motif). Finally, small angle x-ray scattering demonstrates that the AmpR·DNA complex adopts a flat conformation similar to the LTTR protein AphB and undergoes only a slight conformational change when binding UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide. Modeling the AmpR·DNA tetramer bound to UDP-MurNAc-pentapeptide predicts that the UDP-MurNAc moiety of the repressor participates in modulating AmpR function.


AmpC beta-Lactamase; AmpR; Crystal Structure; LysR-type Transcriptional Regulator; Mass Spectrometry (MS); Peptidoglycan; Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS); Transcription

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