Using the genomic SELEX, a total of six Escherichia coli DNA fragments have been identified, which formed complexes with transcription factor RutR. The RutR regulon was found to include a large number of genes encoding components for not only degradation of pyrimidines but also transport of glutamate, synthesis of glutamine, synthesis of pyrimidine nucleotides and arginine, and degradation of purines. DNase I footprinting indicated that RutR recognizes a palindromic sequence of TTGACCAnnTGGTCAA. The RutR box in P1 promoter of carAB encoding carbamoyl phosphate synthetase, a key enzyme of pyrimidine synthesis, overlaps with the PepA (CarP) repressor binding site, implying competition between RutR and PepA. Adding either uracil or thymine abolished RutR binding in vitro to the carAB P1 promoter. Accordingly, in the rutR-deletion mutant or in the presence of uracil, the activation in vivo of carAB P1 promoter was markedly reduced. Northern blot analysis of the RutR target genes indicated that RutR represses the Gad system genes involved in glutamate-dependent acid resistance and allantoin degradation. Altogether we propose that RutR is the pyrimidine sensor and the master regulator for a large set of the genes involved in the synthesis and degradation of pyrimidines.