The Crystal Structure of the RsbN-σBldN Complex from Streptomyces venezuelae Defines a New Structural Class of Anti-σ Factor

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Streptomyces are filamentous bacteria with a complex developmental life cycle characterized by the formation of spore-forming aerial hyphae. Transcription of the chaplin and rodlin genes, which are essential for aerial hyphae production, is directed by the extracytoplasmic function (ECF) σ factor BldN, which is in turn controlled by an anti-σ factor, RsbN. RsbN shows no sequence similarity to known anti-σ factors and binds and inhibits BldN in an unknown manner. Here we describe the 2.23 Å structure of the RsbN-BldN complex. The structure shows that BldN harbors σ2 and σ4 domains that are individually similar to other ECF σ domains, which bind -10 and -35 promoter regions, respectively. The anti-σ RsbN consists of three helices, with α3 forming a long helix embraced between BldN σ2 and σ4 while RsbN α1-α2 dock against σ4 in a manner that would block -35 DNA binding. RsbN binding also freezes BldN in a conformation inactive for simultaneous -10 and -35 promoter interaction and RNAP binding. Strikingly, RsbN is structurally distinct from previously solved anti-σ proteins. Thus, these data characterize the molecular determinants controlling a central Streptomyces developmental switch and reveal RsbN to be the founding member of a new structural class of anti-σ factor.