A regulatory gene (dtxR) responsible for iron-dependent repression of the toxin (tox) and siderophore genes in Corynebacterium diphtheriae was cloned and characterized. A DNA fragment carrying dtxR repressed expression of a tox-lacZ gene fusion in Escherichia coli DH5 alpha in a high-iron environment but not under low-iron conditions. A protein with mobility corresponding to approximately 28 to 29 kDa was identified as the product of the dtxR gene by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. A shuttle vector designated pCM2.6 was constructed which carries the origin of replication from C. diphtheriae plasmid pNG2 and confers resistance to chloramphenicol in E. coli and C. diphtheriae. DNA fragments carrying dtxR were cloned into pCM2.6, and the hybrid shuttle plasmids were transformed by electroporation into wild-type C. diphtheriae C7(beta) and the regulatory mutant C7(beta)hm723, which produces toxin and siderophore constitutively under high-iron conditions. Expression of the cloned dtxR determinant did not affect the phenotype of C. diphtheriae C7(beta). In C. diphtheriae C7(beta)hm723, expression of cloned dtxR restored full repression of siderophore production and partial repression of diphtheria toxin production during growth in a high-iron environment
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