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Liu, Qiang; Pinto, Daniela and Mascher, Thorsten (2018): Characterization of the Widely Distributed Novel ECF42 Group of Extracytoplasmic Function sigma Factors in Streptomyces venezuelae. In: Journal of Bacteriology, Vol. 200, No. 21, e00437-18

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Extracytoplasmic function sigma factors (ECFs) represent the third most abundant fundamental principle of bacterial signal transduction, outranked only by one- and two-component systems. A recent census of ECFs revealed a large number of novel groups whose functions and regulatory mechanisms have not yet been elucidated. Here, we report the characterization of members of the novel group ECF42. ECF42 is a highly abundant and widely distributed ECF group that is present in 11 phyla but is predominantly found in Actinobacteria. Analysis of the genomic context conservation did not identify a putative anti-a factor. Instead, ECF42 genes are cotranscribed with genes encoding a conserved DGPF protein. We have experimentally verified the target promoter of these ECFs (TGTCGA in the -35 region and CGA/TC in the -10 region), which was found upstream of the ECF42-encoding operons in Streptomyces venezuelae, suggesting that ECF42s are positively autoregulated. RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) was performed to define the regulons of the three ECF42 proteins in S. venezuelae, which identified mostly genes encoding DGPF proteins. In contrast to typical ECFs, ECF42 proteins harbor a long C-terminal extension, which is crucial for their activity. Our work provides the first analysis of the function and regulatory mechanism of this novel ECF group that contains a regulatory C-terminal extension. IMPORTANCE In contrast to the one- and two-component signal transduction systems in bacteria, the importance and diversity of ECFs have only recently been recognized in the course of comprehensive phylogenetic and comparative genomics studies. Thus, most of the ECFs still have not been experimentally characterized regarding their physiological functions and regulation mechanisms so far. The physiological roles, target promoter, and target regulons of a novel group of ECFs, ECF42, in S. venezuelae have been investigated in this work. More importantly, members of this group are characterized by a C-terminal extension, which has been verified to harbor a regulatory role in ECF42s. Hence, our work provides an important source for further research on such C-terminal extension containing ECFs.

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