PloS one

Expanding the Role of FurA as Essential Global Regulator in Cyanobacteria.

PMID 26967347


In the nitrogen-fixing heterocyst-forming cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120, the ferric uptake regulator FurA plays a global regulatory role. Failures to eliminate wild-type copies of furA gene from the polyploid genome suggest essential functions. In the present study, we developed a selectively regulated furA expression system by the replacement of furA promoter in the Anabaena sp. chromosomes with the Co2+/Zn2+ inducible coaT promoter from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. By removing Co2+ and Zn2+ from the medium and shutting off furA expression, we showed that FurA was absolutely required for cyanobacterial growth. RNA-seq based comparative transcriptome analyses of the furA-turning off strain and its parental wild-type in conjunction with subsequent electrophoretic mobility shift assays and semi-quantitative RT-PCR were carried out in order to identify direct transcriptional targets and unravel new biological roles of FurA. The results of such approaches led us to identify 15 novel direct iron-dependent transcriptional targets belonging to different functional categories including detoxification and defences against oxidative stress, phycobilisome degradation, chlorophyll catabolism and programmed cell death, light sensing and response, heterocyst differentiation, exopolysaccharide biosynthesis, among others. Our analyses evidence novel interactions in the complex regulatory network orchestrated by FurA in cyanobacteria.