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J Bacteriol. 2002 Jul;184(14):3965-74.

The gonococcal fur regulon: identification of additional genes involved in major catabolic, recombination, and secretory pathways.

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Evans Biomedical Research Center, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


In this study, we have characterized the in vitro binding of Neisseria gonorrhoeae Fur to several well-defined iron transport genes, as well as to additional genes involved in major catabolic, secretory, and recombination pathways of gonococci. The gonococcal Fur protein was recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli HBMV119. Fur was isolated from inclusion bodies and partially purified by ion-exchange chromatography. Gonococcal Fur was found to bind to the promoter/operator region of a gene encoding the previously identified Fur-regulated periplasmic binding protein (FbpA) in a metal ion-dependent fashion, demonstrating that purified Fur is functional. In silico analysis of the partially completed gonococcal genome (FA1090) identified Fur boxes in the promoters of several genes, including tonB, fur, recN, secY, sodB, hemO, hmbR, fumC, a hypothetical gene (Fe-S homolog), and the opa family of genes. By using purified gonococcal Fur, we demonstrate binding to the operator regions of tonB, fur, recN, secY, sodB, hemO, hmbR, fumC, the Fe-S homolog gene, and the opa gene family as determined by an electrophoretic mobility shift assay. While gonococcal Fur was demonstrated to bind to the promoter regions of all 11 opa genes (opaA through -K), we did not detect binding of purified E. coli Fur with 8 of the 11 opa members, indicating that target DNA sequence specificities between these two closely related proteins exist. Furthermore, we observed differences in the relative strengths of binding of gonococcal Fur for these different genes, which most likely reflect a difference in affinity between gonococcal Fur and its DNA targets. This is the first report that definitively demonstrates the binding of gonococcal Fur to its own promoter/operator region, as well as to the opa family of genes that encode surface proteins. Our results demonstrate that the gonococcal Fur protein binds to the regulatory regions of a broad array of genes and indicates that the gonococcal Fur regulon is larger than originally proposed.

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