Recruitment of a novel zinc-bound transcriptional factor by a bacterial HMGA-type protein is required for regulating multiple processes in Myxococcus xanthus

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SummaryEnhanceosome assembly in eukaryotes often requires high mobility group A (HMGA) proteins. In prokaryotes, the only known transcriptional regulator with HMGA-like physical, structural and DNA-binding properties is Myxococcus xanthus CarD. Here, we report that every CarD-regulated process analysed also requires the product of gene carG, located immediately downstream of and transcriptionally coupled to carD. CarG has the zinc-binding H/C-rich metallopeptidase motif found in archaemetzincins, but with Q replacing a catalytically essential E. CarG, a monomer, binds two zinc atoms, shows no apparent metallopeptidase activity, and its stability in vivo absolutely requires the cysteines. This indicates a strictly structural role for zinc-binding. In vivo CarG localizes to the nucleoid but only if CarD is also present. In vitro CarG shows no DNA-binding but physically interacts with CarD via its N-terminal and not HMGA domain. CarD and CarG thus work as a single, physically linked, transcriptional regulatory unit, and if one exists in a bacterium so does the other. Like zinc-associated eukaryotic transcriptional adaptors in enhanceosome assembly, CarG regulates by interacting not with DNA but with another transcriptional factor.

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