The UzcRS two-component system in Caulobacter crescentus mediates widespread transcriptional activation in response to the metals U, Zn and Cu. Unexpectedly, a screen for mutations that affected the activity of the UzcR-regulated urcA promoter (PurcA ) revealed four previously uncharacterized proteins whose inactivation led to metal-independent induction of PurcA . Using molecular genetics and functional genomics, we find that these auxiliary regulators control PurcA expression by modulating the activity of UzcRS through distinct mechanisms. An ABC transporter with a periplasmic metallo-aminopeptidase domain forms a sensory complex with UzcRS, antagonizing metal dependent stimulation by virtue of its ATPase and peptidase domains. Two MarR-like transcription factors synergistically regulate UzcRS activity by repressing the expression of the membrane proteins UzcY and UzcZ, which stimulate UzcRS activity and enhance its sensitivity to a more environmentally relevant U/Zn/Cu concentration range. Additionally, the membrane protein UzcX, whose expression is positively regulated by UzcR, provides a mechanism of feedback inhibition within the UzcRS circuit. Collectively, these data suggest that UzcRS functions as the core-signaling unit within a multicomponent signal transduction pathway that includes a diverse set of auxiliary regulators, providing further insight into the complexity of signaling networks.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.