The Pu promoter of the toluene degradation plasmid pWW0 of Pseudomonas putida drives expression of an operon involved in the sequential oxidation of toluene and m- and p-xylenes to benzoate and toluates, respectively. Similarly, the Po promoter of plasmid pVI150 controls expression of an operon of Pseudomonas sp. strain CF600 which is required for the complete catabolism of phenol and cresols. These promoters, which both belong to the sigma 54-dependent class, are regulated by their cognate activators, XylR and DmpR, respectively. XylR and DmpR are homologous proteins, and both require aromatic compounds as effector molecules for activity. However, these two proteins respond to different profiles of aromatic compounds. The activity of each promoter in the presence of the heterologous regulator was monitored using lacZ and luxAB reporter systems. Genetic evidence is presented that the two activators can functionally substitute each other in the regulation of their corresponding promoters by binding the same upstream DNA segment. Furthermore, when coexpressed, the two proteins appear to act simultaneously on each of the promoters, expanding the responsiveness of these systems to the presence of effectors of both proteins. Potential mechanisms for the occurrence of evolutionary divergence between XylR and DmpR are discussed in view of the DNA sequence similarities among Pu, Po, and a third XylR-responsive promoter, Ps.
1994. Vol. 176, no 16