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Summary

In Staphylococci maximal induction of nitrate reductase (narGHJI genes) requires anaerobic conditions, the presence of nitrate, and the NreABC regulatory system. Aerobic regulation is effected by the NreB/NreC two-component system. The role of the nitrate receptor NreA in nitrate induction and its relation to aerobic regulation was analysed in Staphylococcus carnosus. Nitrate induction of a narG-lip reporter gene required presence of NreB/NreC. When nreA was deleted, nitrate was no longer required for maximal induction, suggesting that NreA is a nitrate regulated inhibitor of NreB/NreC. In vitro, NreA and mutant NreA(Y95A) decreased NreB phosphorylation in part or completely, which was due to the inhibition of the autophosphorylating activity rather than an increase of phosphatase activity. Inhibition of phosphorylation was relieved completely when the nitrate-bound NreA was used instead of the nitrate-free form. In the bacterial two-hybrid BACTH system and HPINE interaction assays, NreA interacted with NreB, but not with NreC, and the interaction was diminished by nitrate. In summary, NreA interacts with NreB and controls its phosphorylation level in a nitrate dependent manner. In this way nitrate and NreA modulate the function of the oxygen sensor NreB, resulting in nitrate/oxygen co-sensing by an NreA/NreB sensor unit as part of the NreABC-system.