Mycobacterium tuberculosis response regulators, DevR and NarL, interact in vivo and co-regulate gene expression during aerobic nitrate metabolism.

Research paper by Vandana V Malhotra, Ruchi R Agrawal, Tammi R TR Duncan, Deepak K DK Saini, Josephine E JE Clark-Curtiss

Indexed on: 11 Feb '15Published on: 11 Feb '15Published in: Journal of Biological Chemistry


Mycobacterium tuberculosis genes Rv0844c/Rv0845 encoding the NarL response regulator and NarS histidine kinase are hypothesized to constitute a two-component system involved in the regulation of nitrate metabolism. However, there is no experimental evidence to support this. In this study, we established M. tuberculosis NarL/NarS as a functional two-component system and identified His(241) and Asp(61) as conserved phosphorylation sites in NarS and NarL, respectively. Transcriptional profiling between M. tuberculosis H37Rv and a ΔnarL mutant strain during exponential growth in broth cultures with or without nitrate defined an ∼30-gene NarL regulon that exhibited significant overlap with DevR-regulated genes, thereby implicating a role for the DevR response regulator in the regulation of nitrate metabolism. Notably, expression analysis of a subset of genes common to NarL and DevR regulons in M. tuberculosis ΔdevR, ΔdevSΔdosT, and ΔnarL mutant strains revealed that in response to nitrite produced during aerobic nitrate metabolism, the DevRS/DosT regulatory system plays a primary role that is augmented by NarL. Specifically, NarL itself was unable to bind to the narK2, acg, and Rv3130c promoters in phosphorylated or unphosphorylated form; however, its interaction with DevR∼P resulted in cooperative binding, thereby enabling co-regulation of these genes. These findings support the role of physiologically derived nitrite as a metabolic signal in mycobacteria. We propose NarL-DevR binding, possibly as a heterodimer, as a novel mechanism for co-regulation of gene expression by the DevRS/DosT and NarL/NarS regulatory systems.