The fused SnoaL_2 domain in the Mycobacterium tuberculosis sigma factor σJ modulates promoter recognition

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Sep 19;45(16):9760-9772. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx609.


Extra-cytoplasmic function (ECF) σ-factors are widespread in bacteria, linking environmental stimuli with changes in gene expression. These transcription factors span several phylogenetically distinct groups and are remarkably diverse in their activation and regulatory mechanisms. Here, we describe the structural and biochemical features of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis ECF factor σJ that suggests that the SnoaL_2 domain at the C-terminus can modulate the activity of this initiation factor in the absence of a cognate regulatory anti-σ factor. M. tuberculosis σJ can bind promoter DNA in vitro; this interaction is substantially impaired by the removal of the SnoaL_2 domain. This finding is consistent with assays to evaluate σJ-mediated gene expression. Structural similarity of the SnoaL_2 domain with epoxide hydrolases also suggests a novel functional role for this domain. The conserved sequence features between M. tuberculosis σJ and other members of the ECF41 family of σ-factors suggest that the regulatory mechanism involving the C-terminal SnoaL_2 domain is likely to be retained in this family of proteins. These studies suggest that the ECF41 family of σ-factors incorporate features of both-the σ70 family and bacterial one-component systems thereby providing a direct mechanism to implement environment-mediated transcription changes.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Domains
  • Sigma Factor / chemistry*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism*
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Sigma Factor
  • beta-Galactosidase