Regulatory Role of PlaR (YiaJ) for Plant Utilization in Escherichia coli K-12

Tomohiro Shimada, Yui Yokoyama, Takumi Anzai, Kaneyoshi Yamamoto, Akira Ishihama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Outside a warm-blooded animal host, the enterobacterium Escherichia coli K-12 is also able to grow and survive in stressful nature. The major organic substance in nature is plant, but the genetic system of E. coli how to utilize plant-derived materials as nutrients is poorly understood. Here we describe the set of regulatory targets for uncharacterized IclR-family transcription factor YiaJ on the E. coli genome, using gSELEX screening system. Among a total of 18 high-affinity binding targets of YiaJ, the major regulatory target was identified to be the yiaLMNOPQRS operon for utilization of ascorbate from fruits and galacturonate from plant pectin. The targets of YiaJ also include the genes involved in the utilization for other plant-derived materials as nutrients such as fructose, sorbitol, glycerol and fructoselysine. Detailed in vitro and in vivo analyses suggest that L-ascorbate and α-D-galacturonate are the effector ligands for regulation of YiaJ function. These findings altogether indicate that YiaJ plays a major regulatory role in expression of a set of the genes for the utilization of plant-derived materials as nutrients for survival. PlaR was also suggested to play protecting roles of E. coli under stressful environments in nature, including the formation of biofilm. We then propose renaming YiaJ to PlaR (regulator of plant utilization). The natural hosts of enterobacterium Escherichia coli are warm-blooded animals, but even outside hosts, E. coli can survive even under stressful environments. On earth, the most common organic materials to be used as nutrients by E. coli are plant-derived components, but up to the present time, the genetic system of E. coli for plant utilization is poorly understand. In the course of gSELEX screening of the regulatory targets for hitherto uncharacterized TFs, we identified in this study the involvement of the IclR-family YiaJ in the regulation of about 20 genes or operons, of which the majority are related to the catabolism of plant-derived materials such as ascorbate, galacturonate, sorbitol, fructose and fructoselysine. Therefore, we propose to rename YiaJ to PlaR (regulator of plant utilization).

Original languageEnglish
Article number20415
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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