The one-dimensional pattern of heterocyst in the model cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 is coordinated by the transcription factor HetR and PatS peptide. Here we report the complex structures of HetR binding to DNA, and its hood domain (HetR(Hood)) binding to a PatS-derived hexapeptide (PatS6) at 2.80 and 2.10 angstrom, respectively. The intertwined HetR dimer possesses a couple of novel HTH motifs, each of which consists of two canonical alpha-helices in the DNA-binding domain and an auxiliary alpha-helix from the flap domain of the neighboring subunit. Two PatS6 peptides bind to the lateral clefts of HetR(Hood), and trigger significant conformational changes of the flap domain, resulting in dissociation of the auxiliary alpha-helix and eventually release of HetR from the DNA major grove. These findings provide the structural insights into a prokaryotic example of Turing model.
2015. Vol. 5, 16470