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Imparting As(III) Responsiveness to the Choline Response Transcriptional Regulator BetI

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posted on 2024-03-26, 23:43 authored by Ryo Yamaguchi, Tetsuaki Yamamoto, Daisuke Umeno, Katsumasa Kamiya, Shigeko Kawai-Noma
The development of a low-cost and user-friendly sensor using microorganisms to monitor the presence of As(III) on earth has garnered significant attention. In conventional research on microbial As(III) sensors, the focus has been on transcription factor ArsR, which plays a role in As(III) metabolism. However, we recently discovered that LuxR, a quorum-sensing control factor in Vibrio fischeri that contains multiple cysteine residues, acted as an As(III) sensor despite having no role in As(III) metabolism. This finding suggested that any protein could be an As(III) sensor if cysteine residues were incorporated. In this study, we aimed to confer As(III) responsiveness to BetI, a transcriptional repressor of the TetR family involved in osmotic regulation of the choline response, unrelated to As(III) metabolism. Based on the BetI structure constructed using molecular dynamics calculations, we generated a series of mutants in which each of the three amino acids not critical for function was substituted with cysteine. Subsequent examination of their response to As(III) revealed that the cysteine-substituted mutant, incorporating all three substitutions, demonstrated As(III) responsiveness. This was evidenced by the fluorescence intensity of the downstream reporter superfolder green fluorescent protein expression regulated by the operator region. Intriguingly, the BetI cysteine mutant maintained its binding responsiveness to the natural ligand choline. We successfully engineered an OR logic gate capable of responding to two orthogonal ligands using a single protein.

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