Toxic but tasty – temporal dynamics and network architecture of heme-responsive two-component signaling in Corynebacterium glutamicum

Marc Keppel, Hannah Piepenbreier, Cornelia Gätgens, Georg Fritz, Julia Frunzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Heme is an essential cofactor and alternative iron source for almost all bacterial species but may cause severe toxicity upon elevated levels and consequently, regulatory mechanisms coordinating heme homeostasis represent an important fitness trait. A remarkable scenario is found in several corynebacterial species, e.g. Corynebacterium glutamicum and Corynebacterium diphtheriae, which dedicate two paralogous, heme-responsive two-component systems, HrrSA and ChrSA, to cope with the Janus nature of heme. Here, we combined experimental reporter profiling with a quantitative mathematical model to understand how this particular regulatory network architecture shapes the dynamic response to heme. Our data revealed an instantaneous activation of the detoxification response (hrtBA) upon stimulus perception and we found that kinase activity of both kinases contribute to this fast onset. Furthermore, instant deactivation of the PhrtBA promoter is achieved by a strong ChrS phosphatase activity upon stimulus decline. While the activation of detoxification response is uncoupled from further factors, heme utilization is additionally governed by the global iron regulator DtxR integrating information on iron availability into the regulatory network. Altogether, our data provide comprehensive insights how TCS cross-regulation and network hierarchy shape the temporal dynamics of detoxification (hrtBA) and utilization (hmuO) as part of a global homeostatic response to heme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1367-1381
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

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