The transcriptional activator CooA from Rhodospirillum rubrum contains a six-coordinate protoheme that acts as a CO sensor in vivo. CO is a physiological effector of CooA and replaces one of the axial ligands of the ferrous heme to form the CO-bound CooA that is active as the transcriptional activator. Cys75 or His77 is coordinated to the ferric and ferrous hemes in CooA, respectively. The redox-controlled ligand exchange between Cys75 and His77 proceeds during the change in the redox state of the heme. The reduction and oxidation midpoint potentials of CooA have been determined to be -320 and -260 mV, respectively. The properties of a functional chimera derived from CRP and CooA suggest that CooA activates the transcription by a similar mechanism to that for CRP at Class II CRP-dependent promoters. Alanine-scanning mutagenesis has revealed that Arg24 and Arg53 of CooA, which will be concerned with the protein-protein interaction with RNA polymerase, are critical amino acid residues for the transcriptional activator activity of CooA, and that Lys26 and Asp94 modulate the activity of CooA.