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AppA, A Novel Gene Encoding A Trans-acting Factor Involved In The Regulation Of Photosynthesis Gene Expression In Rhodobacter Sphaeroides 2.4.1

M Gomelsky, S Kaplan

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A new gene, the product of which is involved in the regulation of photosynthesis gene expression in the anoxygenic photosynthetic bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.1, has been identified. The isolation of this gene, designated appA (activation of photopigment and puc expression), was based on its ability, when provided in extra copies, to partially suppress mutations in the two-component PrrB-PrrA regulatory system. The presence of extra copies of the appA gene in either prrB, prrA, or wild-type strains resulted in an activation of puc::lacZ expression under aerobic conditions. Constructed AppA null mutants did not grow photosynthetically and were impaired in the synthesis of both bacteriochlorophyll and carotenoids, as well as the structural proteins of the photosynthetic spectral complexes. When grown anaerobically in the dark, these mutants accumulated bacteriochlorophyll precursors. The expression of lacZ fusions to several photosynthesis genes and operons, including puc, puf, and bchF, was decreased in the AppA mutant strains in comparison with the wild type. To examine the role of AppA involvement in bacteriochlorophyll biosynthesis, we inactivated an early gene, bchE, of the bacteriochlorophyll pathway in both wild-type and AppA- mutant backgrounds. The double mutant, AppA- BchE-, was found to be severely impaired in photosynthesis gene expression, similar to the AppA- BchE+ mutant and in contrast to the AppA+ BchE- mutant. This result indicated that AppA is more likely involved in the regulation of expression of the bch genes than in the biosynthetic pathway per se. The appA gene was sequenced and appears to encode a protein of 450 amino acids with no obvious homology to known proteins.