Lui, H. Orell, A. Maes, D. van Wolferen, M. Lindås, A-C. Bernander, R. Albers, SV. Charlier, D. Peeters, E. BarR, an Lrp-type transcription factor in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius, regulates an aminotransferase gene in a β-alanine responsive manner. Mol Microbiol. 2014 Mar 19. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12583


In archaea, nothing is known about the β-alanine degradation pathway or its regulation. In this work, we identify and characterize BarR, a novel Lrp-like transcription factor and the first one that has a non-proteinogenic amino acid ligand. BarR is conserved in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius and Sulfolobus tokodaii and is located in a divergent operon with a gene predicted to encode β-alanine aminotransferase. Deletion of barR resulted in a reduced exponential growth rate in the presence of β-alanine. Furthermore, qRT-PCR and promoter activity assays demonstrated that BarR activates the expression of the adjacent aminotransferase gene, but only upon β-alanine supplementation. In contrast, auto-activation proved to be β-alanine independent. Heterologously produced BarR is an octamer in solution and forms a single complex by interacting with multiple sites in the 170-bp long intergenic region separating the divergently transcribed genes. In vitro, DNA binding is specifically responsive to β-alanine and site-mutant analyses indicated that β-alanine directly interacts with the ligand-binding pocket. Altogether, this work contributes to the growing body of evidence that in archaea, Lrp-like transcription factors have physiological roles that go beyond the regulation of α-amino acid metabolism.