AraC-like transcriptional activator CuxR binds c-di-GMP by a PilZ-like mechanism to regulate extracellular polysaccharide production [Microbiology]
Cyclic dimeric GMP (c-di-GMP) has emerged as a key regulatory player in the transition between planktonic and sedentary biofilm-associated bacterial lifestyles. It controls a multitude of processes including production of extracellular polysaccharides (EPSs). The PilZ domain, consisting of an N-terminal “RxxxR” motif and a β-barrel domain, represents a prototype c-di-GMP receptor. We identified a class of c-di-GMP–responsive proteins, represented by the AraC-like transcription factor CuxR in plant symbiotic α-proteobacteria. In Sinorhizobium meliloti, CuxR stimulates transcription of an EPS biosynthesis gene cluster at elevated c-di-GMP levels. CuxR consists of a Cupin domain, a helical hairpin, and bipartite helix-turn-helix motif. Although unrelated in sequence, the mode of c-di-GMP binding to CuxR is highly reminiscent to that of PilZ domains. c-di-GMP interacts with a conserved N-terminal RxxxR motif and the Cupin domain, thereby promoting CuxR dimerization and DNA binding. We unravel structure and mechanism of a previously unrecognized c-di-GMP–responsive transcription factor and provide insights into the molecular evolution of c-di-GMP binding to proteins.
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