Discovery of a novel transcriptional regulator of sugar catabolism in archaea

The haloarchaeon Haloferax volcanii degrades D-glucose via the semiphosphorylative Entner-Doudoroff pathway and D-fructose via a modified Embden-Meyerhof pathway. Here, we report the identification of GfcR, a novel type of transcriptional regulator that functions as an activator of both D-glucose and D-fructose catabolism. We find that in the presence of D-glucose, GfcR activates gluconate dehydratase, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase and also acts as activator of the phosphotransferase system and of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate aldolase, which are involved in uptake and degradation of D-fructose. In addition, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase and pyruvate kinase are activated by GfcR in the presence of D-fructose and also during growth on D-galactose and glycerol. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays indicate that GfcR binds directly to promoters of regulated genes. Specific intermediates of the degradation pathways of the three hexoses and of glycerol were identified as inducer molecules of GfcR. GfcR is composed of a phosphoribosyltransferase (PRT) domain with an N-terminal helix-turn-helix motif and thus shows homology to PurR of Gram-positive bacteria that is involved in the transcriptional regulation of nucleotide biosynthesis. We propose that GfcR of H. volcanii evolved from a PRT-like enzyme to attain a function as a transcriptional regulator of central sugar catabolic pathways in archaea.


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