A Phospho-sugar Binding Domain Homologous to NagB Enzymes Regulates the Activity of the Central Glycolytic Genes Repressor

CggR belongs to the SorC family of bacterial transcriptional regulators which control the expression of genes and operons involved in carbohydrate catabolism. CggR was first identified in Bacillus subtilis where it represses the gapA operon encoding the five enzymes that catalyze the central part of glycolysis. Here we present a structure/function study demonstrating that the C-terminal region of CggR regulates the DNA binding activity of this repressor in response to binding of a phosphorylated sugar. Molecular modeling of CggR revealed a winged-helix DNA-binding motif followed by a C-terminal domain presenting weak but significant homology with glucosamine-6-phosphate deaminases from the NagB family. In silico ligand screening suggested that the CggR C-terminal domain would bind preferentially bi-phosphorylated compounds, in agreement with previous studies that proposed fructuose-1,6-biphosphate (FBP) as the inducer metabolite. In vitro, FBP was the only sugar compound capable of interfering with CggR cooperative binding to DNA. FBP was also found to protect CggR against trypsin degradation at two arginine residues predicted to reside in a mobile loop forming the active site lid of the NagB enzymes. Replacement of residues predicted to interact with FBP led to mutant CggR with altered repressor activity in vivo but retaining their structural integrity and DNA binding activity in vitro. Interestingly, some of the mutant repressors responded with different specificity towards mono- and di-phospho-fructosides. Based on these results, we propose that the activity of the CggR-like repressors is controlled by a phospho-sugar binding (PSB) domain presenting structural and functional homology with NagB enzymes.