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AmrZ beta-sheet residues are essential for DNA binding and transcriptional control of Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence genes.

Waligora E.A., Ramsey D.M., Pryor E.E. Jr., Lu H., Hollis T., Sloan G.P., Deora R., Wozniak D.J.

AmrZ is a putative ribbon-helix-helix (RHH) transcriptional regulator. RHH proteins utilize residues within the β-sheet for DNA binding, while the α-helices promote oligomerization. AmrZ is of interest due to its dual roles as a transcriptional activator and as a repressor, regulating genes encoding virulence factors associated with both chronic and acute Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. In this study, cross-linking revealed that AmrZ forms oligomers in solution but that the amino terminus, containing an unordered region and a β-sheet, were not required for oligomerization. The first 12 unordered residues (extended amino terminus) contributed minimally to DNA binding. Mutagenesis of the AmrZ β-sheet demonstrated that residues 18, 20, and 22 were essential for DNA binding at both activation and repressor sites, suggesting that AmrZ utilizes a similar mechanism for binding to these sites. Mice infected with amrZ mutants exhibited reduced bacterial burden, morbidity, and mortality. Direct in vivo competition assays showed a 5-fold competitive advantage for the wild type over an isogenic amrZ mutant. Finally, the reduced infection phenotype of the amrZ-null strain was similar to that of a strain expressing a DNA-binding-deficient AmrZ variant, indicating that DNA binding and transcriptional regulation by AmrZ is responsible for the in vivo virulence defect. These recent infection data, along with previously identified AmrZ-regulated virulence factors, suggest the necessity of AmrZ transcriptional regulation for optimal virulence during acute infection.

J. Bacteriol. 192:5390-5401(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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