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Open Access Short Report

Transcript analysis of the extended hyp-operon in the cyanobacteria Nostoc sp. strain PCC 7120 and Nostoc punctiforme ATCC 29133

Marie Holmqvist, Pia Lindberg, Åsa Agervald, Karin Stensjö and Peter Lindblad*

Author Affiliations

Department of Photochemistry and Molecular Science, The Ångström Laboratories, Uppsala University, Box 523, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:186  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-186

Published: 14 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Cyanobacteria harbor two [NiFe]-type hydrogenases consisting of a large and a small subunit, the Hup- and Hox-hydrogenase, respectively. Insertion of ligands and correct folding of nickel-iron hydrogenases require assistance of accessory maturation proteins (encoded by the hyp-genes). The intergenic region between the structural genes encoding the uptake hydrogenase (hupSL) and the accessory maturation proteins (hyp genes) in the cyanobacteria Nostoc PCC 7120 and N. punctiforme were analysed using molecular methods.

Findings

The five ORFs, located in between the uptake hydrogenase structural genes and the hyp-genes, can form a transcript with the hyp-genes. An identical genomic localization of these ORFs are found in other filamentous, N2-fixing cyanobacterial strains. In N. punctiforme and Nostoc PCC 7120 the ORFs upstream of the hyp-genes showed similar transcript level profiles as hupS (hydrogenase structural gene), nifD (nitrogenase structural gene), hypC and hypF (accessory hydrogenase maturation genes) after nitrogen depletion. In silico analyzes showed that these ORFs in N. punctiforme harbor the same conserved regions as their homologues in Nostoc PCC 7120 and that they, like their homologues in Nostoc PCC 7120, can be transcribed together with the hyp-genes forming a larger extended hyp-operon. DNA binding studies showed interactions of the transcriptional regulators CalA and CalB to the promoter regions of the extended hyp-operon in N. punctiforme and Nostoc PCC 7120.

Conclusions

The five ORFs upstream of the hyp-genes in several filamentous N2-fixing cyanobacteria have an identical genomic localization, in between the genes encoding the uptake hydrogenase and the maturation protein genes. In N. punctiforme and Nostoc PCC 7120 they are transcribed as one operon and may form transcripts together with the hyp-genes. The expression pattern of the five ORFs within the extended hyp-operon in both Nostoc punctiforme and Nostoc PCC 7120 is similar to the expression patterns of hupS, nifD, hypF and hypC. CalA, a known transcription factor, interacts with the promoter region between hupSL and the five ORFs in the extended hyp-operon in both Nostoc strains.