Inspection of the genomic DNA sequence of the oral anaerobe Porphyromonas gingivalis reveals that the micro-organism possesses the peroxide-sensing transcription activator OxyR, but not the superoxide-sensing transcription factor SoxR. Investigatation of oxidative-stress-responsive proteins in P. gingivalis by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed that two proteins were predominantly upregulated in oxidative conditions. In a P. gingivalis oxyR mutant these two proteins were not induced by treatment with hydrogen peroxide under aerobic conditions. By N-terminal amino acid sequencing, the two proteins were found to be superoxide dismutase and alkyl hydroperoxide reductase, encoded by sod and ahpC, respectively. Northern blot and lacZ fusion analyses revealed that P. gingivalis sod and ahpC were positively regulated by OxyR. Primer extension analysis located the promoter regions of sod and ahpC, and putative -35 boxes of these promoters were found immediately adjacent to their putative OxyR-binding sequences. Moreover, the promoter regions of sod and ahpC had the ability to bind P. gingivalis OxyR protein. These results demonstrate that P. gingivalis sod is one of the OxyR regulons, suggesting that OxyR functions as an intracellular redox sensor rather than a peroxide sensor in this organism. A sod gene of Bacteroides fragilis, which is taxonomically related to P. gingivalis, is inducible by redox stresses but not controlled by its OxyR. A DNA fragment including the B. fragilis sod promoter region could bind the P. gingivalis OxyR protein; however, a putative OxyR binding sequence within the DNA fragment was 14 bases distant from a putative -35 box of its promoter.
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