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This content will become publicly available on August 30, 2023

Title: TrmB Family Transcription Factor as a Thiol-Based Regulator of Oxidative Stress Response
ABSTRACT Oxidative stress causes cellular damage, including DNA mutations, protein dysfunction, and loss of membrane integrity. Here, we discovered that a TrmB (transcription regulator of mal operon) family protein (Pfam PF01978) composed of a single winged-helix DNA binding domain (InterPro IPR002831) can function as thiol-based transcriptional regulator of oxidative stress response. Using the archaeon Haloferax volcanii as a model system, we demonstrate that the TrmB-like OxsR is important for recovery of cells from hypochlorite stress. OxsR is shown to bind specific regions of genomic DNA, particularly during hypochlorite stress. OxsR-bound intergenic regions were found proximal to oxidative stress operons, including genes associated with thiol relay and low molecular weight thiol biosynthesis. Further analysis of a subset of these sites revealed OxsR to function during hypochlorite stress as a transcriptional activator and repressor. OxsR was shown to require a conserved cysteine (C24) for function and to use a CG-rich motif upstream of conserved BRE/TATA box promoter elements for transcriptional activation. Protein modeling suggested the C24 is located at a homodimer interface formed by antiparallel α helices, and that oxidation of this cysteine would result in the formation of an intersubunit disulfide bond. This covalent linkage may promote stabilization of an OxsR more » homodimer with the enhanced DNA binding properties observed in the presence of hypochlorite stress. The phylogenetic distribution TrmB family proteins, like OxsR, that have a single winged-helix DNA binding domain and conserved cysteine residue suggests this type of redox signaling mechanism is widespread in Archaea. IMPORTANCE TrmB-like proteins, while not yet associated with redox stress, are found in bacteria and widespread in archaea. Here, we expand annotation of a large group of TrmB-like single winged-helix DNA binding domain proteins from diverse archaea to function as thiol-based transcriptional regulators of oxidative stress response. Using Haloferax volcanii as a model, we reveal that the TrmB-like OxsR functions during hypochlorite stress as a transcriptional activator and repressor of an extensive gene coexpression network associated with thiol relay and other related activities. A conserved cysteine residue of OxsR serves as the thiol-based sensor for this function and likely forms an intersubunit disulfide bond during hypochlorite stress that stabilizes a homodimeric configuration with enhanced DNA binding properties. A CG-rich DNA motif in the promoter region of a subset of sites identified to be OxsR-bound is required for regulation; however, not all sites have this motif, suggesting added complexity to the regulatory network. « less
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Babitzke, Paul
Award ID(s):
1651117 1936024
Publication Date:
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Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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