Identification of a regulatory protein required for pressure-responsive gene expression in the deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium species strain SS9

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SummaryHere, we report the characterization of a gene necessary for hydrostatic pressure regulation of gene expression in the deep-sea bacterium Photobacterium species strain SS9. The deduced amino acid sequence of the gene product shares extensive similarity to ToxR, a transmembrane DNA-binding protein first discovered as a virulence determinant in the pathogenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Changes in hydrostatic pressure induce changes in both the abundance and the activity of the SS9 ToxR protein (or the activity of a ToxR-regulated protein). As with other high-pressure-inducible phenomena observed in higher organisms, anaesthetics antagonize high-pressure signalling mediated by ToxR. It is suggested that SS9 ToxR has evolved the ability to respond to pressure-mediated alterations in membrane structure. V. cholerae and SS9 also share similarity in a ToxR-regulated protein, indicating that part of the ToxR regulon is conserved in diverse members of the family Vibrionaceae. The SS9 ToxR system represents a useful model for studies of signal transduction and environmental adaptation in the largest portion of the biosphere, the deep sea.

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