A conserved hypothetical protein, Sll1130, is a novel transcription factor that regulates the expression of major heat-responsive genes in Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Synechocystis exhibited an increased thermotolerance due to disruption of sll1130. Δsll1130 cells recovered much faster than wild-type cells after they were subjected to heat shock (50°C) for 30 min followed by recovery at 34°C for 48 h. In Δsll1130 cultures, 70% of the cells were viable compared with the wild-type culture in which only 30% of the cells were viable. DNA microarray analysis revealed that in Δsll1130, expression of the heat-responsive genes such as htpG, hspA, isiA, isiB and several hypothetical genes were up-regulated. Sll1130 binds to a conserved inverted-repeat (GGCGATCGCC) located in the upstream region of the above genes. In addition, both the transcript and protein levels of sll1130 were immediately down-regulated upon shift of wild-type cells from 34 to 42°C. Collectively the results of the present study suggest that Sll1130 is a heat-responsive transcriptional regulator that represses the expression of certain heat-inducible genes at optimum growth temperatures. Upon heat shock, a quick drop in the Sll1130 levels leads to de-repression of the heat-shock genes and subsequent thermal acclimation. On the basis of the findings of the present study, we present a model which describes the heat-shock response involving Sll1130.

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