Ubiquitous Promoter-Localization of Essential Virulence Regulators in Francisella tularensis
Ramsey, Kathryn M.
Osborne, Melisa L.
Vvedenskaya, Irina O.
Nickels, Bryce E.
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CitationRamsey, Kathryn M., Melisa L. Osborne, Irina O. Vvedenskaya, Cathy Su, Bryce E. Nickels, and Simon L. Dove. 2015. “Ubiquitous Promoter-Localization of Essential Virulence Regulators in Francisella tularensis.” PLoS Pathogens 11 (4): e1004793. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004793. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004793.
AbstractFrancisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium whose ability to replicate within macrophages and cause disease is strictly dependent upon the coordinate activities of three transcription regulators called MglA, SspA, and PigR. MglA and SspA form a complex that associates with RNA polymerase (RNAP), whereas PigR is a putative DNA-binding protein that functions by contacting the MglA-SspA complex. Most transcription activators that bind the DNA are thought to occupy only those promoters whose activities they regulate. Here we show using chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput DNA sequencing (ChIP-Seq) that PigR, MglA, and SspA are found at virtually all promoters in F. tularensis and not just those of regulated genes. Furthermore, we find that the ability of PigR to associate with promoters is dependent upon the presence of MglA, suggesting that interaction with the RNAP-associated MglA-SspA complex is what directs PigR to promoters in F. tularensis. Finally, we present evidence that the ability of PigR (and thus MglA and SspA) to positively control the expression of genes is dictated by a specific 7 base pair sequence element that is present in the promoters of regulated genes. The three principal regulators of virulence gene expression in F. tularensis therefore function in a non-classical manner with PigR interacting with the RNAP-associated MglA-SspA complex at the majority of promoters but only activating transcription from those that contain a specific sequence element. Our findings reveal how transcription factors can exert regulatory effects at a restricted set of promoters despite being associated with most or all. This distinction between occupancy and regulatory effect uncovered by our data may be relevant to the study of RNAP-associated transcription regulators in other pathogenic bacteria.
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