Borrelia burgdorferi produces Erp outer surface proteins throughout mammalian infection, but represses their synthesis during colonization of vector ticks. A DNA region 5′ of the start of erp transcription, Operator 2, was previously shown to be essential for regulation of expression. We now report identification and characterization of a novel erp Operator 2-binding protein, which we named BpaB. erp operons are located on episomal cp32 prophages, and a single bacterium may contain as many as 10 different cp32s. Each cp32 family member encodes a unique BpaB protein, yet the three tested cp32-encoded BpaB alleles all bound to the same DNA sequence. A 20-bp region of erp Operator 2 was determined to be essential for BpaB binding, and initial protein binding to that site was required for binding of additional BpaB molecules. A 36-residue region near the BpaB carboxy terminus was found to be essential for high-affinity DNA-binding. BpaB competed for binding to erp Operator 2 with a second B. burgdorferi DNA-binding protein, EbfC. Thus, cellular levels of free BpaB and EbfC could potentially control erp transcription levels.

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Published in Nucleic Acids Research, v. 38, no. 16, p. 5443-5455.

© The Author(s) 2010. Published by Oxford University Press.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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