Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Cyanobacteria respond to environmental stress conditions by degrading their phycobilisomes, the light harvesting complexes for photosynthesis. The expression of nblA, a key gene in this process, is controlled by the response regulator NblR in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942. Here we show that, under nitrogen stress, nblA is also regulated by NtcA, the global regulator for nitrogen control. NtcA activation of nblA was found to be nitrogen-specific and did not take place under sulphur stress. Transcripts from the two major transcription start points (tsp) for the nblA gene were induced in response to nitrogen and sulphur starvation. The most active one (tspII) required both NblR and NtcA to induce full nblA expression under nitrogen starvation. NblR and NtcA bound in vitro to a DNA fragment from the nblA promoter region, suggesting that, under nitrogen stress, both NblR and NtcA activate the main regulated promoter (PnblA-2) by direct DNA-binding. The structure of PnblA-2 differs from that of the canonical NtcA-activated promoter and it is therefore proposed to represent a novel type of NtcA-dependent promoter. We analysed expression patterns from ntcA and selected NtcA targets in NtcA–, NblR– and wild-type strains, and discuss data suggesting further interrelations between phycobilisome degradation and nitrogen assimilation regulatory pathways.
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