WhiB7/WblC is a transcriptional factor of actinomycetes conferring intrinsic resistance to multiple translation-inhibitory antibiotics. It positively autoregulates its own transcription in response to the same antibiotics. The presence of a uORF and a potential Rho-independent transcription terminator in the 5′ leader region has suggested a possibility that the whiB7/wblC gene is regulated via a uORF-mediated transcription attenuation. However, experimental evidence for the molecular mechanism to explain how antibiotic stress suppresses the attenuator, if any, and induces transcription of the whiB7/wblC gene has been lacking. Here we report that the 5′ leader sequences of the whiB7/wblC genes in sub-clades of actinomycetes include conserved antiterminator RNA structures. We confirmed that the putative antiterminator in the whiB7/wblC leader sequences of both Streptomyces and Mycobacterium indeed suppresses Rho-independent transcription terminator and facilitates transcription readthrough, which is required for WhiB7/WblC-mediated antibiotic resistance. The antibiotic-mediated suppression of the attenuator can be recapitulated by amino acid starvation, indicating that translational inhibition of uORF by multiple signals is a key to induce whiB7/wblC expression. Our findings of a mechanism leading to intrinsic antibiotic resistance could provide an alternative to treat drug-resistant mycobacteria.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology