Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 22834735
Biochemistry 2012 Aug;51(34):6738-52
Neisserial adhesin A (NadA) is a surface exposed trimeric protein present in most hypervirulent meningococcal strains and involved in epithelial cell adhesion and colonization. The expression of nadA is controlled by Neisserial adhesin regulator (NadR), a member of the MarR family, which binds to the nadA promoter and strongly represses the transcription of nadA. It was recently demonstrated that the DNA-binding activity of NadR was attenuated by 4-hydroxyphenylacetic acid (4-HPA), a natural molecule released in human saliva, thus leading to the de-repression of nadA in vivo. To elucidate the mechanism of regulation of NadR by 4-HPA, we used hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry in association with in silico docking and site-directed mutagenesis. We show here that 4-HPA binds at the interface between the dimerization and the DNA-binding domains and stabilizes the homodimeric state of NadR without inducing large conformational changes in the DNA-binding lobes. The residues predicted to be in contact with 4-HPA were further selected for mutagenesis to assess their in vitro and in vivo functions in 4-HPA binding. Our results indicate that Arg(40) is critical for DNA-binding and reveal that Tyr(115) plays a key role in the mechanism of regulation of NadR by 4-HPA. Altogether our data suggest that the mechanism of regulation of NadR by 4-HPA mainly involves the stabilization of the dimer in a configuration incompatible with DNA binding.