The characterization of the transcriptional regulator TrmBL1 of the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus, homologous to TrmB (transcriptional regulator of the maltose system), was studied. The genome of P. furiosus contains three TrmB paralogues. One of the TrmB-like proteins (TrmBL), PF0124 (TrmBL1), was analysed in more detail. It regulated the expression of the genes encoding enzymes of the glycolytic pathway as well as the maltodextrin (MD) ABC transporter. By molecular sieve chromatography, purified TrmBL1 behaved at ambient temperature as a tetramer of 148.8 kDa. In the presence of 1 mM maltotriose or 5 mM maltose TrmBL1 formed octamers. As shown by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) TrmBL1 was found to bind the MD (maltodextrin ABC transport genes) promoter DNA with sixfold higher binding affinity (K(d) 0.2 microM) than to the trehalose/maltose ABC transporter (TM) promoter (K(d) 1.2 microM). Maltotriose and maltose interfered in these assays indicating inducer function. In vitro transcription assays using purified transcription components corroborated the data obtained with EMSA and showed inhibition of transcription of the MD promoter by TrmBL1. Recently, van de Werken et al. (FEMS Microbiol Lett 2006; 260: 69-76) identified TGM, a conserved sequence (Thermococcales-Glycolytic-Motif) upstream of genes encoding glycolytic enzymes and the MD ABC transporter. The position of TGM is invariably located downstream of the BRE-TATA box and overlapping the transcription start site on each promoter. By footprint analysis TrmBL1 was found to recognize the TGM sequence in several TGM-containing promoter sequences. We identified the recognition helix in TrmBL1 revealing tyrosine (Y49) to be essential for target DNA binding. However, the TGM motif was not essential for TrmBL1 binding. We conclude that TrmBL1 is a global sugar-sensing transcriptional regulator controlling the genes of transport systems and of sugar-metabolizing enzymes.