The existence of a global gene regulatory system in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus is described. The system is responsive to carbon source quality and acts at the level of transcription to coordinate synthesis of three physically unlinked glycosyl hydrolases implicated in carbohydrate utilization. The specific activities of three enzymes, an α-glucosidase (malA), a β-glycosidase (lacS), and an α- amylase, were reduced 4-, 20-, and 10-fold, respectively, in response to the addition of supplementary carbon sources to a minimal sucrose medium. Western blot analysis using anti-α-glucosidase and anti-β-glycosidase antibodies indicated that reduced enzyme activities resulted exclusively from decreased enzyme levels. Northern blot analysis of malA and lacS mRNAs revealed that changes in enzyme abundance arose primarily from reductions in transcript concentrations. Culture conditions precipitating rapid changes in lacS gene expression were established to determine the response time of the regulatory system in vivo. Full induction occurred within a single generation whereas full repression occurred more slowly, requiring nearly 38 generations. Since lacS mRNA abundance changed much more rapidly in response to a nutrient down shift than to a nutrient up shift, transcript synthesis rather than degradation likely plays a role in the regulatory response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology