J Bacteriol 197(1) , 29-39 (Jan 1 2015)
Although the enzymes for dissimilatory sulfate reduction by microbes have been studied, the mechanisms for transcriptional regulation of the encoding genes remain unknown. In a number of bacteria the transcriptional regulator Rex has been shown to play a key role as a repressor of genes producing proteins involved in energy conversion. In the model sulfate-reducing microbe Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough, the gene DVU_0916 was observed to resemble other known Rex proteins. Therefore, the DVU_0916 protein has been predicted to be a transcriptional repressor of genes encoding proteins that function in the process of sulfate reduction in D. vulgaris Hildenborough. Examination of the deduced DVU_0916 protein identified two domains, one a winged helix DNA-binding domain common for transcription factors, and the other a Rossman fold that could potentially interact with pyridine nucleotides. A deletion of the putative rex gene was made in D. vulgaris Hildenborough, and transcript expression studies of sat, encoding sulfate adenylyl transferase, showed increased levels in the D. vulgaris Hildenborough Rex (RexDvH) mutant relative to the parental strain. The RexDvH-binding site upstream of sat was identified, confirming RexDvH to be a repressor of sat. We established in vitro that the presence of elevated NADH disrupted the interaction between RexDvH and DNA. Examination of the 5′ transcriptional start site for the sat mRNA revealed two unique start sites, one for respiring cells that correlated with the RexDvH-binding site and a second for fermenting cells. Collectively, these data support the role of RexDvH as a transcription repressor for sat that senses the redox status of the cell.