Genomic and genetic dissection of an archaeal regulon

Nitin S. Baliga, Sean P. Kennedy, Wailap Victor Ng, Leroy Hood*, Shiladitya DasSarma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The extremely halophilic archaeon Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 can grow phototrophically by means of light-driven proton pumping by bacteriorhodopsin in the purple membrane. Here, we show by genetic analysis of the wild type, and insertion and double-frame shift mutants of Bat that this transcriptional regulator coordinates synthesis of a structural protein and a chromophore for purple membrane biogenesis in response to both light and oxygen. Analysis of the complete Halobacterium sp. NRC-1 genome sequence showed that the regulatory site, upstream activator sequence (UAS), the putative binding site for Bat upstream of the bacterio-opsin gene (bop), is also present upstream to the other Bat-regulated genes. The transcription regulator Bat contains a photoresponsive cGMP-binding (GAF) domain, and a bacterial AraC type helix-turn-helix DNA binding motif. We also provide evidence for involvement of the PAS/PAC domain of Bat in redox-sensing activity by genetic analysis of a purple membrane overproducer. Five additional Bat-like putative regulatory genes were found, which together are likely to be responsible for orchestrating the complex response of this archaeon to light and oxygen. Similarities of the bop-like UAS and transcription factors in diverse organisms, including a plant and a γ-proteobacterium, suggest an ancient origin for this regulon capable of coordinating light and oxygen responses in the three major branches of the evolutionary tree of life. Finally, sensitivity of four of five regulon genes to DNA supercoiling is demonstrated and correlated to presence of alternating purine-pyrimidine sequences (RY boxes) near the regulated promoters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2521-2525
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - 27 Feb 2001


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