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Free Content The HrcA repressor is the thermosensor of the heat‐shock regulatory circuit in the human pathogen Helicobacter pylori

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Bacteria exploit different strategies to perceive and rapidly respond to sudden changes of temperature. In H elicobacter pylori the response to thermic stress is transcriptionally controlled by a regulatory circuit that involves two repressors, HspR and HrcA. Here we report that HrcA acts as a protein thermometer. We demonstrate that temperature specifically modulates HrcA binding to DNA, with a complete and irreversible temperature‐dependent loss of DNA binding activity at 42°C. Intriguingly, although the reduction of HrcA binding capability is not reversible in vitro, transcriptional analysis showed that HrcA exerts its repressive influence in vivo, even when the de novo repressor synthesis is blocked after the temperature challenge. Accordingly, we demonstrate the central role of the chaperonine GroESL in restoring the HrcA binding activity, lost upon heat challenge. Together our results establish HrcA as a rare example of intrinsic temperature sensing transcriptional regulator, whose activity is post‐transcriptionally modulated by the GroESL chaperonine.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2014

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