The archaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus uses a catabolite repression-like system to control production of several glycoside hydrolases. To better understand this regulatory system, studies of the regulation of expression of the β-glycosidase gene (lacS) were conducted. Expression of lacS varies in response to medium composition and to mutations at an unlinked gene called car. Despite gene overlap, expression of the lacS promoter proximal gene, SSO3017, exhibited coregulation but not cotranscription with lacS. Measurements of mRNA half-life excluded differential stability as a factor in lacS regulation. Chromosomal repositioning by homologous recombination of a lacS deletion series clarified critical cis-acting sequences required for lacS regulation. lacS repositioned at amyA exhibited increased lacS expression and compromised the response to medium composition independently of lacS 5′ flanking sequence composition. In contrast, regulation of lacS by the car mutation was dependent on sequences upstream of the archaeal TATA box. Expression of a promoter fusion between lacS and the car-independent malA promoter integrated either at amyA or at the natural lacS locus was insensitive to the allelic state of car. In contrast, the promoter fusion retained a response to medium composition only at the lacS locus. These results indicate that car acts at the lacS promoter and that the response to medium composition involves locus-specific sequences exclusive of those present 5′ to lacS or within the lacS transcription unit.
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