Ferric uptake regulators (Fur) are a family of transcription factors coupling gene regulatory events to metal concentration. Recent evidence has expanded the mechanistic repertoires employed by Fur to activate or repress gene expression in the presence or absence of regulatory metals. However, the mechanistic basis underlying this extended repertoire has remained largely unexplored. In this study, we used an extensive set of mutations to demonstrate that Campylobacter jejuni Fur (CjFur) employs the same surface to positively and negatively control gene expression regardless of the presence or absence of metals. Moreover, the crystal structure determination of a CjFur devoid of any regulatory metals shows that subtle reorientation of the transcription factor DNA binding domain negatively impacts DNA binding, gene expression and gut colonization in chickens. Overall, these results highlight the versatility of the CjFur DNA binding domain in mediating all gene regulatory events controlled by the metalloregulator and that the full metalation of CjFur is critical to the Campylobacter jejuni life cycle in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas