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J Bacteriol. 2014 Jun;196(12):2131-42. doi: 10.1128/JB.01486-13. Epub 2014 Feb 28.

Structure of bacterial transcription factor SpoIIID and evidence for a novel mode of DNA binding.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA


SpoIIID is evolutionarily conserved in endospore-forming bacteria, and it activates or represses many genes during sporulation of Bacillus subtilis. An SpoIIID monomer binds DNA with high affinity and moderate sequence specificity. In addition to a predicted helix-turn-helix motif, SpoIIID has a C-terminal basic region that contributes to DNA binding. The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) solution structure of SpoIIID in complex with DNA revealed that SpoIIID does indeed have a helix-turn-helix domain and that it has a novel C-terminal helical extension. Residues in both of these regions interact with DNA, based on the NMR data and on the effects on DNA binding in vitro of SpoIIID with single-alanine substitutions. These data, as well as sequence conservation in SpoIIID binding sites, were used for information-driven docking to model the SpoIIID-DNA complex. The modeling resulted in a single cluster of models in which the recognition helix of the helix-turn-helix domain interacts with the major groove of DNA, as expected. Interestingly, the C-terminal extension, which includes two helices connected by a kink, interacts with the adjacent minor groove of DNA in the models. This predicted novel mode of binding is proposed to explain how a monomer of SpoIIID achieves high-affinity DNA binding. Since SpoIIID is conserved only in endospore-forming bacteria, which include important pathogenic Bacilli and Clostridia, whose ability to sporulate contributes to their environmental persistence, the interaction of the C-terminal extension of SpoIIID with DNA is a potential target for development of sporulation inhibitors.

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