Regulators of nonsulfur purple phototrophic bacteria and the interactive control of CO2 assimilation, nitrogen fixation, hydrogen metabolism and energy generation

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2004 Jun;28(3):353-76. doi: 10.1016/j.femsre.2004.01.002.


For the metabolically diverse nonsulfur purple phototrophic bacteria, maintaining redox homeostasis requires balancing the activities of energy supplying and energy-utilizing pathways, often in the face of drastic changes in environmental conditions. These organisms, members of the class Alphaproteobacteria, primarily use CO2 as an electron sink to achieve redox homeostasis. After noting the consequences of inactivating the capacity for CO2 reduction through the Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) pathway, it was shown that the molecular control of many additional important biological processes catalyzed by nonsulfur purple bacteria is linked to expression of the CBB genes. Several regulator proteins are involved, with the two component Reg/Prr regulatory system playing a major role in maintaining redox poise in these organisms. Reg/Prr was shown to be a global regulator involved in the coordinate control of a number of metabolic processes including CO2 assimilation, nitrogen fixation, hydrogen metabolism and energy-generation pathways. Accumulating evidence suggests that the Reg/Prr system senses the oxidation/reduction state of the cell by monitoring a signal associated with electron transport. The response regulator RegA/PrrA activates or represses gene expression through direct interaction with target gene promoters where it often works in concert with other regulators that can be either global or specific. For the key CO2 reduction pathway, which clearly triggers whether other redox balancing mechanisms are employed, the ability to activate or inactivate the specific regulator CbbR is of paramount importance. From these studies, it is apparent that a detailed understanding of how diverse regulatory elements integrate and control metabolism will eventually be achieved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphaproteobacteria / genetics
  • Alphaproteobacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Hydrogen / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Nitrogen Fixation / genetics
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Photosynthetic Reaction Center Complex Proteins
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Hydrogen