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

Physiological studies of tryptophan transport and tryptophanase operon induction in Escherichia coli.

Escherichia coli forms three permeases that can transport the amino acid tryptophan: Mtr, AroP, and TnaB. The structural genes for these permeases reside in separate operons that are subject to different mechanisms of regulation. We have exploited the fact that the tryptophanase ( tna) operon is induced by tryptophan to infer how tryptophan transport is influenced by the growth medium and by mutations that inactivate each of the permease proteins. In an acid-hydrolyzed casein medium, high levels of tryptophan are ordinarily required to obtain maximum tna operon induction. High levels are necessary because much of the added tryptophan is degraded by tryptophanase. An alternate inducer that is poorly cleaved by tryptophanase, 1-methyltryptophan, induces efficiently at low concentrations in both tna+ strains and tna mutants. In an acid-hydrolyzed casein medium, the TnaB permease is most critical for tryptophan uptake; i.e., only mutations in tnaB reduce tryptophanase induction. However, when 1-methyltryptophan replaces tryptophan as the inducer in this medium, mutations in both mtr and tnaB are required to prevent maximum induction. In this medium, AroP does not contribute to tryptophan uptake. However, in a medium lacking phenylalanine and tyrosine the AroP permease is active in tryptophan transport; under these conditions it is necessary to inactivate the three permeases to eliminate tna operon induction. The Mtr permease is principally responsible for transporting indole, the degradation product of tryptophan produced by tryptophanase action. The TnaB permease is essential for growth on tryptophan as the sole carbon source. When cells with high levels of tryptophanase are transferred to tryptophan-free growth medium, the expression of the tryptophan (trp) operon is elevated. This observation suggests that the tryptophanase present in these cells degrades some of the synthesized tryptophan, thereby creating a mild tryptophan deficiency. Our studies assign roles to the three permeases in tryptophan transport under different physiological conditions.[1]


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