TraR, a homolog of a RNAP secondary channel interactor, modulates transcription

Matthew D. Blankschien, Katarzyna Potrykus, Elicia Grace, Abha Choudhary, Daniel Vinella, Michael Cashel, Christophe Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Recent structural and biochemical studies have identified a novel control mechanism of gene expression mediated through the secondary channel of RNA Polymerase (RNAP) during transcription initiation. Specifically, the small nucleotide ppGpp, along with DksA, a RNAP secondary channel interacting factor, modifies the kinetics of transcription initiation, resulting in, among other events, down-regulation of ribosomal RNA synthesis and up-regulation of several amino acid biosynthetic and transport genes during nutritional stress. Until now, this mode of regulation of RNAP was primarily associated with ppGpp. Here, we identify TraR, a DksA homolog that mimics ppGpp/DksA effects on RNAP. First, expression of TraR compensates for dksA transcriptional repression and activation activities in vivo. Second, mutagenesis of a conserved amino acid of TraR known to be critical for DksA function abolishes its activity, implying both structural and functional similarity to DksA. Third, unlike DksA, TraR does not require ppGpp for repression of the rrnB P1 promoter in vivo and in vitro or activation of amino acid biosynthesis/transport genes in vivo. Implications for DksA/ppGpp mechanism and roles of TraR in horizontal gene transfer and virulence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000345
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


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