The sufR Gene (sll0088 in Synechocystis sp. Strain PCC 6803) Functions as a Repressor of the sufBCDS Operon in Iron-Sulfur Cluster Biogenesis in Cyanobacteria

Tao Wang, Gaozhong Shen, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian, Lee McIntosh, Donald A. Bryant, John H. Golbeck

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The suf operon is composed of four genes (sufB, sufC, sufD, and sufS) and is highly conserved in the genomes of cyanobacteria. Open reading frame sll0088 in Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 is located near the 5′ end of the suf operon but is transcribed in the direction opposite that of the suf operon. We previously reported the isolation of two independent suppressor strains of C14SPsaC that mapped to sll0088 and restored photoautotrophic growth. The protein encoded by sll0088 has two significant features: (i) a DNA-binding domain near the N terminus and (ii) four highly conserved cysteine residues near the C terminus. The protein has high sequence similarity to transcription regulatory proteins with a conserved DNA-binding domain and can be classified in the DeoR family of helix-loop-helix proteins. The protein falls into a further subclass that contains a C-X12-C-X13-C-X 14-C motif near the C terminus, which may represent a metal-binding site. The expressed Sll0088 protein harbored an iron-sulfur cluster as shown by optical and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Compared to the wild type, expression levels of the sufBCDS genes were elevated when cells were grown under conditions of oxidative and iron stress and were even higher in a null mutant of Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7002 in which the sll0088 homolog was insertionally inactivated. In agreement with the proposed role of the sufBCDS genes in iron metabolism, the growth rate of the null mutant was significantly higher than that of the wild type under iron-limiting conditions. We propose that the protein encoded by sll0088 is a transcriptional repressor of the suf operon, and we name the gene sufR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)956-967
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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