Characterization of consensus operator site for Streptococcus pneumoniae copper repressor, CopY

Henrik O’Brien, Joseph W. Alvin, Sanjay V. Menghani, Koenraad Van Doorslaer, Michael D.L. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Copper is broadly toxic to bacteria. As such, bacteria have evolved specialized copper export systems (cop operons) often consisting of a DNA-binding/copper-responsive regulator (which can be a repressor or activator), a copper chaperone, and a copper exporter. For those bacteria using DNA-binding copper repressors, few studies have examined the regulation of this operon regarding the operator DNA sequence needed for repression. In Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus), CopY is the copper repressor for the cop operon. Previously, these homologs have been characterized to bind a 10-base consensus sequence T/GACAnnTGTA. Here, we bioinformatically and empirically characterize these operator sites across species using S. pneumoniae CopY as a guide for binding. By examining the 21-base repeat operators for the pneumococcal cop operon and comparing binding of recombinant CopY to this, and the operator sites found in Enterococcus hirae, we show using biolayer interferometry that the T/GACAnnTGTA sequence is essential to binding, but it is not sufficient. We determine a more comprehensive S. pneumoniae CopY operator sequence to be RnYKACAAATGTARnY (where “R” is purine, “Y” is pyrimidine, and “K” is either G or T) binding with an affinity of 28 nM. We further propose that the cop operon operator consensus site of pneumococcal homologs be RnYKACAnnYGTARnY. This study illustrates the necessity to explore bacterial operator sites further to better understand bacterial gene regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jun 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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