The novel ECF56 SigG1-RsfG system modulates morphological differentiation and metal-ion homeostasis in Streptomyces tsukubaensis

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Extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factors are key transcriptional regulators that prokaryotes have evolved to respond to environmental challenges. Streptomyces tsukubaensis harbours 42 ECFs to reprogram stress-responsive gene expression. Among them, SigG1 features a minimal conserved ECF s2s4 architecture and an additional C-terminal extension that encodes a SnoaL_2 domain, which is characteristic for ECF s factors of group ECF56. Although proteins with such domain organisation are widely found among Actinobacteria, the functional role of ECFs with a fused SnoaL_2 domain remains unknown. Our results show that in addition to predicted self-regulatory intramolecular amino acid interactions between the SnoaL_2 domain and the ECF core, SigG1 activity is controlled by the cognate anti-sigma protein RsfG, encoded by a co-transcribed sigG1-neighbouring gene. Characterisation of ?sigG1 and ?rsfG strains combined with RNA-seq and ChIP-seq experiments, suggests the involvement of SigG1 in the morphological differentiation programme of S. tsukubaensis. SigG1 regulates the expression of alanine dehydrogenase, ald and the WhiB-like regulator, wblC required for differentiation, in addition to iron and copper trafficking systems. Overall, our work establishes a model in which the activity of a s factor of group ECF56, regulates morphogenesis and metal-ions homeostasis during development to ensure the timely progression of multicellular differentiation.