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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar;179(5):1655-63.

A hydrogen-sensing system in transcriptional regulation of hydrogenase gene expression in Alcaligenes species.

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Institut für Biologie der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


Heterologous complementation studies using Alcaligenes eutrophus H16 as a recipient identified a hydrogenase-specific regulatory DNA region on megaplasmid pHG21-a of the related species Alcaligenes hydrogenophilus. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed four open reading frames on the subcloned DNA, designated hoxA, hoxB, hoxC, and hoxJ. The product of hoxA is homologous to a transcriptional activator of the family of two-component regulatory systems present in a number of H2-oxidizing bacteria. hoxB and hoxC predict polypeptides of 34.5 and 52.5 kDa, respectively, which resemble the small and the large subunits of [NiFe] hydrogenases and correlate with putative regulatory proteins of Bradyrhizobium japonicum (HupU and HupV) and Rhodobacter capsulatus (HupU). hoxJ encodes a protein with typical consensus motifs of histidine protein kinases. Introduction of the complete set of genes on a broad-host-range plasmid into A. eutrophus H16 caused severe repression of soluble and membrane-bound hydrogenase (SH and MBH, respectively) synthesis in the absence of H2. This repression was released by truncation of hoxJ. H2-dependent hydrogenase gene transcription is a typical feature of A. hydrogenophilus and differs from the energy and carbon source-responding, H2-independent mode of control characteristic of A. eutrophus H16. Disruption of the A. hydrogenophilus hoxJ gene by an in-frame deletion on megaplasmid pHG21-a led to conversion of the regulatory phenotype: SH and MBH of the mutant were expressed in the absence of H2 in response to the availability of the carbon and energy source. RNA dot blot analysis showed that HoxJ functions on the transcriptional level. These results suggest that the putative histidine protein kinase HoxJ is involved in sensing molecular hydrogen, possibly in conjunction with the hydrogenase-like polypeptides HoxB and HoxC.

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