Bacteriophage Φ11 uses Staphylococcus aureus as its host and, like lambdoid phages, harbors three homologous operators in between its two divergently oriented repressor genes. None of the repressors of Φ11, however, showed binding to all three operators, even at high concentrations. To understand why the DNA binding mechanism of Φ11 repressors does not match that of lambdoid phage repressors, we studied the N-terminal domain of the Φ11 lysogenic repressor, as it harbors a putative helix-turn-helix motif. Our data revealed that the secondary and tertiary structures of the N-terminal domain were different from those of the full-length repressor. Nonetheless, the N-terminal domain was able to dimerize and bind to the operators similar to the intact repressor. In addition, the operator base specificity, binding stoichiometry, and binding mechanism of this domain were nearly identical to those of the whole repressor. The binding affinities of the repressor and its N-terminal domain were reduced to a similar extent when the temperature was increased to 42°C. Both proteins also adequately dislodged a RNA polymerase from a Φ11 DNA fragment carrying two operators and a promoter. Unlike the intact repressor, the binding of the N-terminal domain to two adjacent operator sites was not cooperative in nature. Taken together, we suggest that the dimerization and DNA binding abilities of the N-terminal domain of the Φ11 repressor are distinct from those of the DNA binding domains of other phage repressors. © 2014 Biswas et al.
Biswas, A., Mandal, S., & Sau, S. (2014). The N-terminal domain of the repressor of Staphylococcus aureus phage Φ11 possesses an unusual dimerization ability and DNA binding affinity. PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095012