The role of PerR in O2-affected gene expression of Clostridium acetobutylicum.
In the strict anaerobe Clostridium acetobutylicum, a PerR-homologous protein has recently been identified as being a key repressor of a reductive machinery for the scavenging of reactive oxygen species and molecular O(2). In the absence of PerR, the full derepression of its regulon resulted in increased resistance to oxidative stress and nearly full tolerance of an aerobic environment. In the present study, the complementation of a Bacillus subtilis PerR mutant confirmed that the homologous protein from C. acetobutylicum acts as a functional peroxide sensor in vivo. Furthermore, we used a transcriptomic approach to analyze gene expression in the aerotolerant PerR mutant strain and compared it to the O(2) stimulon of wild-type C. acetobutylicum. The genes encoding the components of the alternative detoxification system were PerR regulated. Only few other targets of direct PerR regulation were identified, including two highly expressed genes encoding enzymes that are putatively involved in the central energy metabolism. All of them were highly induced when wild-type cells were exposed to sublethal levels of O(2). Under these conditions, C. acetobutylicum also activated the repair and biogenesis of DNA and Fe-S clusters as well as the transcription of a gene encoding an unknown CO dehydrogenase-like enzyme. Surprisingly few genes were downregulated when exposed to O(2), including those involved in butyrate formation. In summary, these results show that the defense of this strict anaerobe against oxidative stress is robust and by far not limited to the removal of O(2) and its reactive derivatives.