Overproduction, solubilization, purification and DNA-binding properties of AmpR from Citrobacter freundii
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AmpR belongs to the LysR family of prokaryotic DNA-binding transcriptional regulators and controls induction of the enterobacterial ampC beta-lactamase gene. The ampR gene of Citrobacter freundii was deregulated by employing the polymerase chain reaction to introduce an efficient ribosome-binding sequence and suitable restriction enzyme sites for cloning into a chemically inducible tac-promoter expression vector. When induced in Escherichia coli, the modified ampR gene rapidly overproduced the AmpR protein as an insoluble aggregate. The AmpR protein could be solubilized with 1.32 M guanidine/HCl and remained soluble when dialyzed against 0.5 M NaCl. The solubility properties of AmpR were exploited to selectively precipitate and resolubilize the protein in a nearly homogenous state. AmpR was then purified by a single gel-filtration chromatography step which demonstrated that AmpR exists in solution as a monodisperse homodimeric protein. Several milligrams of purified AmpR could be obtained routinely from a 1-1 culture of induced bacteria. A DNA-binding assay buffer containing 300 mM potassium glutamate and 30% glycerol was found to stabilize AmpR and used to demonstrate sequence-specific DNA-binding. Additionally, purified AmpR binds a half-operator DNA with an inverted-repeat sequence which competes with binding by the wild-type operator. These findings are discussed in terms of the helix-turn-helix DNA-binding motif, whereby AmpR is proposed to interact with its wild-type operator as a dimer of dimers.
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