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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Studies of the Escherichia coli Trp repressor binding to its five operators and to variant operator sequences.

The Escherichia coli Trp repressor binds to promoters of very different sequence and intrinsic activity. Its mode of binding to trp operator DNA has been studied extensively yet remains highly controversial. In order to examine the selectivity of the protein for DNA, we have used electromobility shift assays (EMSAs) to study its binding to synthetic DNA containing the core sequences of each of its five operators and of operator variants. Our results for DNA containing sequences of two of the operators, trpEDCBA and aroH are similar to those of previous studies. Up to three bands of lower mobility than the free DNA are obtained which are assigned to complexes of stoichiometry 1 : 1, 2 : 1 and 3 : 1 Trp repressor dimer to DNA. The mtr and aroL operators have not been studied previously in vitro. For DNA containing these sequences, we observe predominantly one retarded band in EMSA with mobility corresponding to 2 : 1 complexes. We have also obtained retardation of DNA containing the trpR operator sequence, which has only been previously obtained with super-repressor Trp mutants. This gives bands with mobilities corresponding to 1 : 1 and 2 : 1 complexes. In contrast, DNA containing containing a symmetrized trpR operator sequence, trpRs, gives a single retarded band with mobility corresponding solely to a 1 : 1 protein dimer-DNA complex. Using trpR operator variants, we show that a change in a single base pair in the core 20 base pairs can alter the number of retarded DNA bands in EMSA and the length of the DNase I footprint observed. This shows that the binding of the second dimer is sequence selective. We propose that the broad selectivity of Trp repressor coupled to tandem 2 : 1 binding, which we have observed with all five operator sequences, enables the Trp repressor to bind to a limited number of sites with diverse sequences. This allows it to co-ordinately control promoters of different intrinsic strength. This mechanism may be of importance in a number of promoters that bind multiple effector molecules.[1]


  1. Studies of the Escherichia coli Trp repressor binding to its five operators and to variant operator sequences. Jeeves, M., Evans, P.D., Parslow, R.A., Jaseja, M., Hyde, E.I. Eur. J. Biochem. (1999) [Pubmed]
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