We investigated the regulation of the two of the three groE operons (cpn.1 and cpn.2) of the root-nodulating bacterium R. leguminosarum strain A34. Both are heat inducible, and both have a CIRCE sequence in their upstream regions, suggesting regulation by an HrcA repressor. Mutagenesis of the CIRCE sequence upstream of cpn.1 led to an increase in the levels of cpn.1 mRNA, and knock-out of the hrcA gene increased the level of Cpn60.1 protein (the GroEL homologue encoded by the cpn.1 operon). Inactivation of the hrcA gene also caused increased expression of a 29 kDa protein that was identified as RhiA, a component of a quorum-sensing system. However, neither loss of the upstream CIRCE sequence, nor loss of HrcA function, had any effect on expression from the cpn.2 promoter. Further analysis of the cpn.2 upstream region suggested regulation could be mediated by an RpoH system, and this was confirmed by deleting the rpoH gene from the chromosome, which led to a decreased level of Cpn60.2 expression. Inactivation of RpoH led to a reduction in growth rate which could be partly compensated for by inactivation of HrcA, indicating an overlap in the in vivo function of the proteins regulated by these two systems.
- Heat shock
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