Cleavage of a putative metal permease in Chlamydia trachomatis yields an iron-dependent transcriptional repressor

Christopher C Thompson, Sophie S Nicod, Denise S Malcolm, Scott S Grieshaber, Rey A Carabeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The regulation of iron homeostasis is essential for most organisms, because iron is required for a variety of conserved biochemical processes, yet can be toxic at high concentrations. Upon experiencing iron starvation in vitro, the obligate intracellular human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis exhibits elevated expression of a putative iron-transport system encoded by the ytg operon. The third component of the ytg operon, CT069 (YtgCR), encodes a protein with two distinct domains: a membrane-anchored metal ion permease and a diphtheria toxin repressor (DtxR)-like transcriptional repressor. In this report, we demonstrate that the C-terminal domain of CT069 (YtgR) serves as an iron-dependent autorepressor of the ytg operon. Moreover, the nascent full-length metal permease-transcriptional repressor protein was processed during the course of infection, and heterologously when expressed in Escherichia coli. The products produced by heterologous cleavage in E. coli were functional in the repression of a reporter gene downstream of a putative YtgR operator. We report a bona fide mechanism of iron-dependent regulation of transcription in Chlamydia. Moreover, the unusual membrane permease-DNA-binding polypeptide fusion configuration was found in several bacteria. Therefore, the DNA-binding capability and liberation of the YtgR domain from a membrane-anchored permease in C. trachomatis could represent a previously uncharacterized mechanism for prokaryotic regulation of iron-homeostasis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10546-10551
Number of pages6
Issue number26
Early online date11 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2012


  • proteolysis
  • models, molecular
  • repressor proteins
  • operon
  • molecular sequence data
  • chlamydia trachomatis
  • transcription, genetic
  • amino acid sequence
  • sequence homology, amino acid
  • iron


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