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Autotrophic microorganisms are able to utilize carbon dioxide as their only carbon source, or, alternatively, many of them can grow heterotrophically on organics. Different variants of autotrophic pathways have been identified in various lineages of the phylum Crenarchaeota. Aerobic members of the order Sulfolobales utilize the hydroxypropionate-hydroxybutyrate cycle (HHC) to fix inorganic carbon, whereas anaerobic Thermoproteales use the dicarboxylate-hydroxybutyrate cycle (DHC). Knowledge of transcriptional regulation of autotrophic pathways in Archaea is limited. We applied a comparative genomics approach to predict novel autotrophic regulons in the Crenarchaeota. We report identification of two novel DNA motifs associated with the autotrophic pathway genes in the Sulfolobales (HHC box) and Thermoproteales (DHC box). Based on genome context evidence, the HHC box regulon was attributed to a novel transcription factor from the TrmB family named HhcR. Orthologs of HhcR are present in all Sulfolobales genomes but were not found in other lineages. A predicted HHC box regulatory motif was confirmed by in vitro binding assays with the recombinant HhcR protein from Metallosphaera yellowstonensis. For the DHC box regulon, we assigned a different potential regulator, named DhcR, which is restricted to the order Thermoproteales. DhcR in Thermoproteus neutrophilus (Tneu_0751) was previously identified as a DNA-binding protein with high affinity for the promoter regions of two autotrophic operons. The global HhcR and DhcR regulons reconstructed by comparative genomics were reconciled with available omics data in Metallosphaera and Thermoproteus spp. The identified regulons constitute two novel mechanisms for transcriptional control of autotrophic pathways in the Crenarchaeota. Little is known about transcriptional regulation of carbon dioxide fixation pathways in Archaea. We previously applied the comparative genomics approach for reconstruction of DtxR family regulons in diverse lineages of Archaea. Here, we utilize similar computational approaches to identify novel regulatory motifs for genes that are autotrophically induced in microorganisms from two lineages of Crenarchaeota and to reconstruct the respective regulons. The predicted novel regulons in archaeal genomes control the majority of autotrophic pathway genes and also other carbon and energy metabolism genes. The HhcR regulon was experimentally validated by DNA-binding assays in Metallosphaera spp. Novel regulons described for the first time in this work provide a basis for understanding the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of autotrophic pathways in Archaea. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


Semen A Leyn, Irina A Rodionova, Xiaoqing Li, Dmitry A Rodionov. Novel Transcriptional Regulons for Autotrophic Cycle Genes in Crenarchaeota. Journal of bacteriology. 2015 Jul;197(14):2383-91

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PMID: 25939834

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