Bacillus anthracis possesses two paralogs of the transcriptional regulator, Spx. SpxA1 and SpxA2 interact with RNA polymerase (RNAP) to activate the transcription of genes implicated in the prevention and alleviation of oxidative protein damage. The spxA2 gene is highly upregulated in infected macrophages, but how this is achieved is unknown. Previous studies have shown that the spxA2 gene was under negative control by the Rrf2 family repressor protein, SaiR, whose activity is sensitive to oxidative stress. These studies also suggested that spxA2 was under positive autoregulation. In the present study, we show by in vivo and in vitro analyses that spxA2 is under direct autoregulation but is also dependent on the SpxA1 paralogous protein. The deletion of either spxA1 or spxA2 reduced the diamide-inducible expression of an spxA2-lacZ construct. In vitro transcription reactions using purified B. anthracis RNAP showed that SpxA1 and SpxA2 protein stimulates transcription from a DNA fragment containing the spxA2 promoter. Ectopically positioned spxA2-lacZ fusion requires both SpxA1 and SpxA2 for expression, but the requirement for SpxA1 is partially overcome when saiR is deleted. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that SpxA1 and SpxA2 enhance the affinity of RNAP for spxA2 promoter DNA and that this activity is sensitive to reductant. We hypothesize that the previously observed upregulation of spxA2 in the oxidative environment of the macrophage is at least partly due to SpxA1- mediated SaiR repressor inactivation and the positive autoregulation of spxA2 transcription.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology