Regulation of CodY Activity through Modulation of Intracellular Branched-Chain Amino Acid Pools
In several Gram-positive bacterial species, the global transcriptional regulatory protein CodY adjusts the expression of many metabolic genes, apparently in response to changes in the pools of specific metabolites, i.e., the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) isoleucine, leucine, and valine (ILV) and the nucleoside triphosphate GTP. CodY not only responds to these metabolites as measured in vitro but also regulates the genes that direct their synthesis. We have constructed a set of strains lacking binding sites for the CodY protein in cis at loci coding for the ILV biosynthetic machinery, effectively overexpressing these genes in an attempt to modulate the ILV input signal to CodY. Metabolite analyses of strains derepressed for genes needed for ILV synthesis revealed more than a 6-fold increase in the valine pool and a 2-fold increase in the isoleucine and leucine pools. Accumulation of the branched-chain amino acids was accompanied by a 24-fold induction of the bkd operon (required for branched-chain fatty acid synthesis) and 6-fold hyperrepression of the CodY-regulated yhdG and yufN genes, demonstrating that CodY perceives intracellular fluctuations in at least one if its input signals. We conclude that changes in the rate of endogenous ILV synthesis serve as an important signal for CodY-mediated gene regulation.