Mechanism for Attenuation of DNA Binding by MarR Family Transcriptional Regulators by Small Molecule Ligands

Inoka C. Perera, Louisiana State University
Yong Hwan Lee, Louisiana State University
Steven P. Wilkinson, Louisiana State University
Anne Grove, Louisiana State University


Members of the multiple antibiotic resistance regulator (MarR) family control gene expression in a variety of metabolic processes in bacteria and archaea. Hypothetical uricase regulator (HucR), which belongs to the ligand-responsive branch of the MarR family, regulates uricase expression in Deinococcus radiodurans by binding a shared promoter region between uricase and HucR genes. We show here that HucR responds only to urate and, to a lesser extent, to xanthine by attenuated DNA binding, compared to other intermediates of purine degradation. Using molecular-dynamics-guided mutational analysis, we identified the ligand-binding site in HucR. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays and intrinsic Trp fluorescence have identified W20 from the N-terminal helix and R80 from helix 3, which serves as a scaffold for the DNA recognition helix, as being essential for ligand binding. Using structural data combined with in silico and in vitro analyses, we propose a mechanism for the attenuation of DNA binding in which a conformational change initiated by charge repulsion due to a bound ligand propagates to DNA recognition helices. This mechanism may apply generally to MarR homologs that bind anionic phenolic ligands. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.