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J Mol Biol. 1997 Jun 27;269(5):719-31.

In vitro binding of the response regulator CitB and of its carboxy-terminal domain to A + T-rich DNA target sequences in the control region of the divergent citC and citS operons of Klebsiella pneumoniae.

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Mikrobiologisches Institut, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich, Switzerland.


The genes specifically required for citrate fermentation in Klebsiella pneumoniae form a cluster on the chromosome consisting of two divergently transcribed groups, citCDEFG and citS-oadGAB-citAB. Northern blot analyses described here and elsewhere indicate that each group forms an operon. The transcriptional start sites of citC and citS, which were mapped in this work by primer extension, are separated by a stretch of 193 bp with an extraordinary high A + T content of 67%. Expression of the citrate fermentation genes was recently shown to be positively controlled by a two-component signal transduction system encoded by the promoter-distal genes of the citS operon, citA (sensor kinase) and citB (response regulator). As a first step towards the functional characterization of CitB, we analysed its DNA-binding properties. To this end, the entire CitB, its N-terminal receiver domain (CitBN), and its C-terminal output domain (CitBC), all modified by a (His)6-tag, were purified. CitB(His) and CitBN(His) could be phosphorylated either with acetylphosphate or with ATP plus MalE-CitAC. The latter protein contains the kinase domain of CitA fused to the C terminus of the maltose-binding protein. Upon phosphorylation, CitB(His) became more resistant towards limited proteolysis by trypsin, reflecting substantial changes in tertiary structure. In gel retardation assays, CitB(His) bound specifically to the citC-citS intergenic region. The retardation pattern changed significantly upon phosphorylation and the apparent binding affinity increased 10 to 100-fold. Depending on the protein concentration, four different phospho-CitB(His)-DNA complexes could be resolved, suggesting the presence of multiple binding sites between citC and citS. DNase I footprints revealed two protected regions extending maximally from -55 to -89 relative to the citS transcription start and from -50 to -96 relative to the citC transcription start. Gel retardation and DNase I footprint assays with CitBC(His) showed that the C-terminal domain is sufficient for specific DNA binding. Since its properties were similar to that of unphosphorylated CitB(His), an essential role of the N-terminal receiver domain in high-affinity DNA binding was indicated. The positions of the binding sites for CitB and of putative recognition sequences for the cAMP receptor protein suggested a model for the interaction of these activators with RNA polymerase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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