Essentiality of DevR/DosR interaction with SigA for the dormancy survival program in Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Research paper by Uma S US Gautam, Kriti K Sikri, Atul A Vashist, Varshneya V Singh, Jaya S JS Tyagi

Indexed on: 10 Dec '13Published on: 10 Dec '13Published in: Journal of bacteriology


The DevR/DosR regulator is believed to play a key role in dormancy adaptation mechanisms of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in response to a multitude of gaseous stresses, including hypoxia, which prevails within granulomas. DevR activates transcription by binding to target promoters containing a minimum of two binding sites. The proximal site overlaps with the SigA -35 element, suggesting that DevR-SigA interaction is required for activating transcription. We evaluated the roles of 14 charged residues of DevR in transcriptional activation under hypoxic stress. Seven of the 14 alanine substitution mutants were defective in regulon activation, of which K191A, R197A, and K179A+K168A (designated K179A*) mutants were significantly or completely compromised in DNA binding. Four mutants, namely, E154A, R155A, E178A, and K208A, were activation defective in spite of binding to DNA and were classified as positive-control (pc) mutants. The SigA interaction defect of the E154A and E178A proteins was established by in vitro and in vivo assays and implies that these substitutions lead to an activation defect because they disrupt an interaction(s) with SigA. The relevance of DevR interaction to the transcriptional machinery was further established by the hypoxia survival phenotype displayed by SigA interaction-defective mutants. Our findings demonstrate the role of DevR-SigA interaction in the activation mechanism and in bacterial survival under hypoxia and establish the housekeeping sigma factor SigA as a molecular target of DevR. The interaction of DevR and RNA polymerase suggests a new and novel interceptable molecular interface for future antidormancy strategies for Mycobacterium tuberculosis.