The TspO outer membrane protein of Rhodobacter sphaeroides has been shown to be involved in controlling the transcription of a number of genes which encode enzymes involved in photopigment biosynthesis and the puc operon. The display of regulated genes appears identical to those genes encompassing the PpsR/AppA repressor/antirepressor regulon, although the effect of TspO is modest relative to that of PpsR/AppA. To directly address the hypothesis that TspO is effective through the PpsR/AppA system, we constructed mutant strains with mutations in both tspO and appA. In all cases, the phenotypes examined resembled those of the appA lesion by itself, leading us to conclude that TspO works through or modulates the PpsR/AppA system and acts upstream of the site of action of these regulatory proteins. In earlier publications, we had suggested that TspO is involved in the efflux of a certain intermediate(s) of the porphyrin biosynthesis pathway and that transcriptional regulation of target gene expression could be explained by the accumulation of a coactivator of AppA function. Although the data reported here do not precisely identify this coactivator, they lend support to this hypothesis. We discuss the importance of this form of gene control as the result of the recent extension of the TspO system to Sinorhizobium meliloti, as described by Davey and de Bruijn (M. E. Davey and F. J. de Bruijn, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66:5353–5359, 2000). It is therefore possible that this system constitutes a more widely, although not universally, demonstrated form of gene regulation
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