Structural basis of copper-efflux-regulator-dependent transcription activation

Wei Shi, Baoyue Zhang, Yanan Jiang, Chang Liu, Wei Zhou, Ming Chen, Yang Yang, Yangbo Hu, Bin Liu

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17 Scopus citations


The copper efflux regulator (CueR), a representative member of mercury resistance regulator (MerR) family metalloregulators, controls expression of copper homeostasis-regulating genes in bacteria. The mechanism of transcription activation by CueR and other MerR family regulators is bending the spacer domain of promoter DNA. Here, we report the cryo-EM structures of the intact CueR-dependent transcription activation complexes. The structures show that CueR dimer bends the 19-bp promoter spacer to realign the −35 and −10 elements for recognition by σ70-RNA polymerase holoenzyme and reveal a previously unreported interaction between the DNA-binding domain (DBD) from one CueR subunit and the σ70 nonconserved region (σNCR). Functional studies have shown that the CueR-σNCR interaction plays an auxiliary role in CueR-dependent transcription, assisting the activation mechanism of bending promoter DNA by CueR dimer. Because DBDs are highly conserved in sequence and structure, this transcription-activating mechanism could be generally used by MerR family regulators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102449
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 21 2021

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  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Structural Biology


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