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

Identification and characterization of mutants affecting transcription termination at the threonine operon attenuator.

Mutations that map in or delete the attenuator of the threonine (thr) operon of Escherichia coli were isolated and characterized. These mutations disrupt or delete the transcription termination structure encoded by the attenuator leading to increased transcriptional readthrough into the thr operon structural genes. Most of the base substitutions and single base-pair insertions and deletions map in the G + C-rich region of dyad symmetry in the attenuator and decrease the calculated stabilities of the attenuator RNA secondary structures to similar extents (from -30.8 kcal/mol to approximately -21 kcal/mol). Most of the mutants showed a three- to fourfold increase in homoserine dehydrogenase (thrA gene product) synthesis relative to the wild-type parent strain. The mutation in one mutant (thrL153 + G) lowered the calculated stability of the RNA secondary structure only slightly (from -30.8 to 27.8 kcal/mol) but the mutant still exhibited high levels of homoserine dehydrogenase synthesis. In addition, three base substitution mutants (thrL135U, thrL139A and thrL156U) showed only slightly (1.5 to 2-fold) elevated levels of homoserine dehydrogenase activity, even though the calculated stabilities of the attenuator RNA secondary structures were reduced as much as most of the other mutants. Two of the mutations (thrL135U and thrL156U) mapped in the G + C-rich-A + T-rich junction of the attenuator. The third mutation (thrL139A) creates an A X C pair in the center of the G + C-rich region of the attenuator stem. The results obtained for these mutants show that the stability of the RNA secondary structure does not always correlate with the efficiency of transcription termination. Finally, analysis of the base changes in the substitution mutations showed that the mutational changes do not appear to be random.[1]


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