The hliA gene of the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 is known to be upregulated by high-intensity light through the activity of the NblS sensor kinase. In this work it was found that, within the hliA upstream region, changes to the sequence around -30 to -25 (relative to the transcriptional start site) resulted in elevated hliA expression, implicating this region in negative regulation of the gene. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays performed were consistent with a protein binding this region that acts to keep the gene off in lower light. A reduction in gene dosage of nblS in vivo resulted in enhanced hliA expression, suggesting that negative control of hliA is mediated through NblS. An extended version of the high light regulatory 1 (HLR1) motif (previously described in Synechocystis PCC 6803) was identified within the sequence surrounding -30 to -25 of hliA. The extended HLR1 sequence was found upstream of other NblS-controlled genes from S. elongatus and Synechocystis PCC 6803 and upstream of hli genes from a variety of cyanobacterial and related genomes. These results point to the evolutionary conservation of the HLR1 element and its importance in NblS-mediated signaling and yield new insight into NblS-mediated control of gene expression.