Chemistry and Biochemistry
One of the primary transcriptional regulators of fatty acid homeostasis in many prokaryotes is the protein FadR. To better understand its biological function in the extreme thermophile Thermus thermophilus HB8, we sought to first determine its preferred DNA-binding sequences in vitro using the combinatorial selection method Restriction Endonuclease Protection, Selection, and Amplification (REPSA) and then use this information to bioinformatically identify potential regulated genes. REPSA determined a consensus FadR-binding sequence 5´-TTRNACYNRGTNYAA-3´, which was further characterized using quantitative electrophoretic mobility shift assays. With this information, a search of the T. thermophilus HB8 genome found multiple operons potentially regulated by FadR. Several of these were identified as encoding proteins involved in fatty acid biosynthesis and degradation; however, others were novel and not previously identified as targets of FadR. The role of FadR in regulating these genes was validated by physical and functional methods, as well as comparative genomic approaches to further characterize regulons in related organisms. Taken together, our study demonstrates that a systematic approach involving REPSA, biophysical characterization of protein-DNA binding, and bioinformatics can be used to postulate biological roles for potential transcriptional regulators.
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