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Suppression of transcription polarity in the Escherichia coli haemolysin operon by a short upstream element shared by polysaccharide and DNA transfer determinants

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Expression of the Escherichia coli hlyCABD operon encoding synthesis, maturation and export of haemolysin toxin was strongly dependent upon a 35 bp DNA sequence, spanning the element GGCGGTAG, located 2 kbp upstream. When the hly operon was placed under the control of the inducible tac promoter, expression remained dependent upon this element, when transcribed in its native orientation 3′ of the promoter. The increase in ptac-directed transcription was strongest for the distal, export genes of the hly operon, and was particularly striking when ptac and the element were placed far upstream. The element did not influence transcript stability, and we suggest that it is a key component of a novel regulatory mechanism may suppresses transcription polarity within operons. The mechanism that be of widespread importance in bacterial gene expression because the 8 bp element is present in many Gram-negative species as an upstream component of operons encoding the production of toxins and the surface assembly of polysaccharides and components required for the conjugal transfer of DNA. We name it the ops element for operon polarity suppressor.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Cambridge Department of Pathology, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, UK

Publication date: 1996-02-01

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