Phosphorylation of the group A Streptococcal CovR response regulator causes dimerization and promoter-specific recruitment by RNA polymerase.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The group A streptococcus (GAS), Streptococcus pyogenes, is an important human pathogen that causes infections ranging in severity from self-limiting pharyngitis to severe invasive diseases that are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The pathogenic effects of GAS are mediated by the expression of virulence factors, one of which is the hyaluronic acid capsule (encoded by genes in the has operon). The expression of these virulence factors is controlled by the CovR/S (CsrR/S) two-component regulatory system of GAS which regulates, directly or indirectly, the expression of about 15% of the genome. CovR is a member of the OmpR/PhoB family of transcriptional regulators. Here we show that phosphorylation by acetyl phosphate results in dimerization of CovR. Dimerization was not observed using a D53A mutant of CovR, indicating that D53 is the site of phosphorylation in CovR. Phosphorylation stimulated binding of CovR to a DNA fragment containing the promoter of the has operon (Phas) approximately twofold. Binding of CovR D53A mutant protein to Phas was indistinguishable from the binding of wild-type unphosphorylated CovR. In vitro transcription, using purified GAS RNA polymerase, showed that wild-type CovR repressed transcription, and repression was stimulated more than sixfold by phosphorylation. In the presence of RNA polymerase, binding at Phas of phosphorylated, but not unphosphorylated, CovR was stimulated about fourfold, which accounts for the difference in the effect of phosphorylation on repression versus DNA binding. Thus, regulation of Phas by CovR is direct, and the degree of repression of Phas is controlled by the phosphorylation of CovR.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gusa, AA; Gao, J; Stringer, V; Churchward, G; Scott, JR

Published Date

  • July 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 188 / 13

Start / End Page

  • 4620 - 4626

PubMed ID

  • 16788170

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1482990

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1098-5530

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0021-9193

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1128/jb.00198-06


  • eng