Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21317326
J. Bacteriol. 2011 Apr;193(8):1919-29
In the family Streptococcaceae, the genes encoding zinc ABC uptake systems (called zit or adc) are regulated by a coencoded MarR family member (i.e., ZitR or AdcR), whereas in the great majority of bacteria, these genes are regulated by Zur, the Fur-like zinc-responsive repressor. We studied the zit operon from Lactococcus lactis and its regulation in response to Zn(II) in vivo. zit transcription is repressed by Zn(II) in a wide concentration range starting from nontoxic micromolar levels and is derepressed at nanomolar concentrations. The level of zit promoter downregulation by environmental Zn(II) is correlated with the intracellular zinc content. The helix-turn-helix domain of ZitR is required for downregulation. In vitro, the purified protein is a dimer that complexes up to two zinc ligands per monomer and specifically binds two intact palindromic operator sites overlapping the -35 and -10 boxes of the zit promoter. DNA binding is abolished by the chelator EDTA or TPEN and fully restored by Zn(II) addition, indicating that the active repressor complexes Zn(II) with high affinity. These results suggest that derepression under starvation conditions could be an essential emergency mechanism for preserving Zn(II) homeostasis by uptake; under Zn(II)-replete conditions, the function of ZitR repression could be to help save energy rather than to avoid Zn(II) toxicity. The characterization of a MarR family zinc-responsive repressor in this report gives insight into the way Streptococcaceae efficiently adapt to Zn(II) fluctuations in their diverse ecological niches.