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Free Content Buffering of stable RNA promoter activity against DNA relaxation requires a far upstream sequence

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The stable RNA promoters of Escherichia coli are exquisitely sensitive to variations in the superhelical density of DNA. Previously, we have shown that binding of the DNA architectural protein FIS at the upstream activating sequences (UASs) of stable RNA promoters prevents the transcription complexes from inactivation induced by changes in the supercoiling level of DNA. Here, we identify a strong FIS binding site 89 bp upstream of the previously described cluster of FIS binding sites located between positions −64 and −150 in the rrnA P1 UAS. Binding of FIS to this ‘far upstream sequence’ allows the recruitment of additional FIS molecules to the region. We demonstrate that, upon DNA relaxation, the maintenance of promoter activity requires, in addition to UAS, the presence of the far upstream sequence. The far upstream sequence shows no effect in the absence of an intact cluster. This requirement for the integrity of the region encompassing the far upstream sequence and the UAS cluster is correlated with the in vitro modulation of binding of FIS to UAS and interaction of RNA polymerase with the UP element and the region around the transcriptional start point. Our results suggest that, at the rrnA P1 promoter, the entire region comprising the UAS and the far upstream sequence is involved in the assembly of the transcription initiation complex. We propose that the extensive engagement of upstream DNA in this nucleoprotein complex locally compensates for the lack of torsional strain in relaxed DNA, thus increasing the resistance of the promoter to global DNA relaxation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Strasse, D-35043 Marburg, Germany. 2: Department of Cellular Biochemistry, The Hebrew University – Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 90101, Israel. 3: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.

Publication date: July 1, 2004

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