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

Synthesis and degradation of the mRNA of the Tn21 mer operon.

The mercury resistance locus encoded by Tn21 on the monocopy IncFII plasmid R100 (merTn21) consists of a metal-responsive activator/ repressor, merR, which controls initiation of a polycistronic message that includes genes for the uptake (merTPC) and reduction (merA) of Hg2+ and merD, which may also play a minor regulatory role. Comparison of the relative abundance of the 5' and 3' ends of the merTPCAD transcript revealed a strong transcriptional gradient in the operon, consistent with previous observations of lower relative abundance of the more promoter-distal gene products. In vivo mRNA degradation rates varied only slightly for the different genes: however, the rates of mRNA synthesis varied considerably from the beginning to the end of the operon. Specifically, mRNA corresponding to the promoter-proximal genes, merTPC, achieved a maximum in vivo synthesis rate between 60 and 120 seconds after induction; this rate was maintained for approximately ten minutes. In contrast, the synthesis rates of mRNA corresponding to the promoter-distal genes merA and merD, were initially fivefold lower than the rates of the promoter-proximal genes for the first five minutes after induction, and then rose gradually to approximately 50% of the merTPC synthesis rates. These data suggested that early after induction only 20% of the transcripts initiating at merT proceed beyond merC. At later times after induction approximately 50% of the transcripts proceed beyond merC. Nuclease end mapping did not reveal any discrete termination events in the merPCA region, thus, premature termination may occur at many sites.[1]


  1. Synthesis and degradation of the mRNA of the Tn21 mer operon. Gambill, B.D., Summers, A.O. J. Mol. Biol. (1992) [Pubmed]
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