Genome wide identification of Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans (ATCC 23270) transcription factors and comparative analysis of ArsR and MerR metal regulators


Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans is a chemolithoautotrophic acidophilic bacterium that obtains its energy from the oxidation of ferrous iron, elemental sulfur, or reduced sulfur minerals. This capability makes it of great industrial importance due to its applications in biomining. During the industrial processes, A. ferrooxidans survives to stressing circumstances in its environment, such as an extremely acidic pH and high concentration of transition metals. In order to gain insight into the organization of A. ferrooxidans regulatory networks and to provide a framework for further studies in bacterial growth under extreme conditions, we applied a genome-wide annotation procedure to identify 87 A. ferrooxidans transcription factors. We classified them into 19 families that were conserved among diverse prokaryotic phyla. Our annotation procedure revealed that A. ferrooxidans genome contains several members of the ArsR and MerR families, which are involved in metal resistance and detoxification. Analysis of their sequences revealed known and potentially new mechanism to coordinate gene-expression in response to metal availability. A. ferrooxidans inhabit some of the most metal-rich environments known, thus transcription factors identified here seem to be good candidates for functional studies in order to determine their physiological roles and to place them into A. ferrooxidans transcriptional regulatory networks.