Background: The major uptake system responsible for the transport of fructose, glucose, and sucrose in Corynebacterium glutamicum ATCC 13032 is the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS). The genes encoding PTS components, namely ptsI, ptsH, and ptsF belong to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, whereas ptsG and ptsS are located in two separate regions of the C. glutamicum genome. Due to the localization within and adjacent to the fructose-PTS gene cluster, two genes coding for DeoR-type transcriptional regulators, cg2118 and sugR, are putative candidates involved in the transcriptional regulation of the fructose-PTS cluster genes. Results: Four transcripts of the extended fructose-PTS gene cluster that comprise the genes sugR-cg2116, ptsI, cg2118-fruK-ptsF, and ptsH, respectively, were characterized. In addition, it was shown that transcription of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is enhanced during growth on glucose or fructose when compared to acetate. Subsequently, the two genes sugR and cg2118 encoding for DeoR-type regulators were mutated and PTS gene transcription was found to be strongly enhanced in the presence of acetate only in the sugR deletion mutant. The SugR regulon was further characterized by microarray hybridizations using the sugR mutant and its parental strain, revealing that also the PTS genes ptsG and ptsS belong to this regulon. Binding of purified SugR repressor protein to a 21 bp sequence identified the SugR binding site as an AC-rich motif. The two experimentally identified SugR binding sites in the fructose-PTS gene cluster are located within or downstream of the mapped promoters, typical for transcriptional repressors. Effector studies using electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) revealed the fructose PTS-specific metabolite fructose-1-phosphate (F-1-P) as a highly efficient, negative effector of the SugR repressor, acting in the micromolar range. Beside F-1-P, other sugar-phosphates like fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (F-1,6-P) and glucose-6-phosphate (G-6-P) also negatively affect SugR-binding, but in millimolar concentrations. Conclusion: In C. glutamicum ATCC 13032 the DeoR-type regulator SugR acts as a pleiotropic transcriptional repressor of all described PTS genes. Thus, in contrast to most DeoR-type repressors described, SugR is able to act also on the transcription of the distantly located genes ptsG and ptsS of C. glutamicum. Transcriptional repression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is observed during growth on acetate and transcription is derepressed in the presence of the PTS sugars glucose and fructose. This derepression of the fructose-PTS gene cluster is mainly modulated by the negative effector F-1-P, but reduced sensitivity to the other effectors, F-1,6-P or G-6-P might cause differential transcriptional regulation of genes of the general part of the PTS (ptsI, ptsH) and associated genes encoding sugar-specific functions (ptsF, ptsG, ptsS).
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