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

Cloning, genetic characterization, and nucleotide sequence of the hemA-prfA operon of Salmonella typhimurium.

The first step in heme biosynthesis is the formation of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA). Mutations in two genes, hemA and hemL, result in auxotrophy for ALA in Salmonella typhimurium, but the roles played by these genes and the mechanism of ALA synthesis are not understood. I have cloned and sequenced the S. typhimurium hemA gene. The predicted polypeptide sequence for the HemA protein shows no similarity to known ALA synthases, and no ALA synthase activity was detected in extracts prepared from strains carrying the cloned hemA gene. Genetic analysis, DNA sequencing of amber mutations, and maxicell studies proved that the open reading frame identified in the DNA sequence encodes HemA. Another surprising finding of this study is that hemA lies directly upstream of prfA, which encodes peptide chain release factor 1 (RF-1). A hemA::Kan insertion mutation, constructed in vitro, was transferred to the chromosome and used to show that these two genes form an operon. The hemA gene ends with an amber codon, recognized by RF-1. I suggest a model for autogenous control of prfA expression by translation reinitiation.[1]


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