Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prediction of DtxR regulon: Identification of binding sites and operons controlled by Diphtheria toxin repressor in Corynebacterium diphtheriae

Sailu Yellaboina1, Sarita Ranjan1, Prachee Chakhaiyar2, Seyed Ehtesham Hasnain2 and Akash Ranjan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Computational and Functional Genomics Group, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad 500076, INDIA

2 Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad 500076, INDIA

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BMC Microbiology 2004, 4:38  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-4-38

Published: 24 September 2004



The diphtheria toxin repressor, DtxR, of Corynebacterium diphtheriae has been shown to be an iron-activated transcription regulator that controls not only the expression of diphtheria toxin but also of iron uptake genes. This study aims to identify putative binding sites and operons controlled by DtxR to understand the role of DtxR in patho-physiology of Corynebacterium diphtheriae.


Positional Shannon relative entropy method was used to build the DtxR-binding site recognition profile and the later was used to identify putative regulatory sites of DtxR within C. diphtheriae genome. In addition, DtxR-regulated operons were also identified taking into account the predicted DtxR regulatory sites and genome annotation. Few of the predicted motifs were experimentally validated by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. The analysis identifies motifs upstream to the novel iron-regulated genes that code for Formamidopyrimidine-DNA glycosylase (FpG), an enzyme involved in DNA-repair and starvation inducible DNA-binding protein (Dps) which is involved in iron storage and oxidative stress defense. In addition, we have found the DtxR motifs upstream to the genes that code for sortase which catalyzes anchoring of host-interacting proteins to the cell wall of pathogenic bacteria and the proteins of secretory system which could be involved in translocation of various iron-regulated virulence factors including diphtheria toxin.


We have used an in silico approach to identify the putative binding sites and genes controlled by DtxR in Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Our analysis shows that DtxR could provide a molecular link between Fe+2-induced Fenton's reaction and protection of DNA from oxidative damage. DtxR-regulated Dps prevents lethal combination of Fe+2 and H2O2 and also protects DNA by nonspecific DNA-binding. In addition DtxR could play an important role in host interaction and virulence by regulating the levels of sortase, a potential vaccine candidate and proteins of secretory system.