A role for Vibrio vulnificus PecS during hypoxia

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© 2019, The Author(s). The genus Vibrio includes serious human pathogens, and mollusks are a significant reservoir for species such as V. vulnificus. Vibrio species encode PecS, a member of the multiple antibiotic resistance regulator (MarR) family of transcription factors; pecS is divergently oriented to pecM, which encodes an efflux pump. We report here that Vibrio species feature frequent duplications of pecS-pecM genes, suggesting evolutionary pressures to respond to distinct environmental situations. The single V. vulnificus PecS binds two sites within the pecS-pecM intergenic region with K d = 0.3 ± 0.1 nM, a binding that is attenuated by the ligands xanthine and urate, except when promoter DNA is saturated with PecS. A unique target is found in the intergenic region between genes encoding the nitric oxide sensing transcription factor, NsrR, and nod; the nod-encoded nitric oxide dioxygenase is important for preventing nitric oxide stress. Reporter gene assays show that PecS-mediated repression of gene expression can be relieved in presence of ligand. Since xanthine and urate are produced as part of the oxidative burst during host defenses and under molluscan hypoxia, we propose that these intermediates in the host purine degradation pathway function to promote bacterial survival during hypoxia and oxidative stress.

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Scientific Reports

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