The complex whiJ locus mediates environmentally sensitive repression of development of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2)
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A segment of DNA was isolated that complemented several poorly characterised sporulation-defective white-colony mutants of Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) from an early collection (Hopwood et al., J Gen Microbiol 61: 397–408, 1970). Complementation was attributable to a gene, SCO4543, named whiJ, encoding a likely DNA-binding protein. Surprisingly, although some mutations in whiJ had a white colony phenotype, complete deletion of the wild-type or mutant gene gave a wild-type morphology. The whiJ gene is a member of a large paralogous set of S. coelicolor genes including abaAorfA, which regulates antibiotic production; and genes flanking whiJ are paralogues of other gene classes that are often associated with whiJ-like genes (Gehring et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97: 9642–9647, 2000). Thus, the small gene SCO4542 encodes a paralogue of the abaAorfD gene product, and SCO4544 encodes a paralogue of a family of likely anti-sigma factors (including the product of abaAorfB). Deletion of SCO4542 resulted in a medium-dependent bald- or white-colony phenotype, which could be completely suppressed by the simultaneous deletion of whiJ. A model is proposed in which WhiJ binds to operator sequences to repress developmental genes, with repression being released by interaction with the WhiJ-associated SCO4542 protein. It is suggested that this activity of SCO4542 protein is prevented by an unknown signal.
Keywordswhi mutants Streptomyces coelicolor Microbial development Regulation of secondary metabolism XRE family Anti-sigma factors
We gratefully thank Helen Kieser and David Hopwood for strains recovered from archives, Govind Chandra for carrying out bioinformatic analysis and Kay Fowler for technical advice. This work was supported by grants from the John Innes Foundation (NJR) and the BBSRC grant CAD 04380 (JAA). KFC is a John Innes Foundation Emeritus Fellow.
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