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EMBO J. 1993 Mar;12(3):997-1004.

Transduction of the light signal during complementary chromatic adaptation in the cyanobacterium Calothrix sp. PCC 7601: DNA-binding proteins and modulation by phosphorylation.

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Départment de Biochimie et Génétique Moléculaire, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The cyanobacterium Calothrix sp. PCC 7601 can adapt its pigment content in response to changes in the incident light wavelength. It synthesizes, as major light-harvesting pigments, either phycocyanin 2 (PC2, encoded by the cpc2 operon) under red light or phycoerythrin (PE, encoded by the cpeBA operon) under green light conditions. The last step of the signal transduction pathway is characterized by a transcriptional control of the expression of these operons. Partially purified protein extracts were used in gel retardation assays and DNase I footprinting experiments to identify the factors that interact with the promoter region of the cpeBA operon. We found that two proteins, RcaA and RcaB, only detected in extracts of cells grown under green light, behave as positive transcriptional factors for the expression of the cpeBA operon. Treatment of the fractions containing RcaA and RcaB with alkaline phosphatase prevents the binding of RcaA but not of RcaB to the cpeBA promoter region. A post-translational modification of RcaA thus modulates its affinity for DNA.

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