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

Evidence suggesting cis action by the TnaC leader peptide in regulating transcription attenuation in the tryptophanase operon of Escherichia coli.

Expression of the tryptophanase ( tna) operon in Escherichia coli is regulated by catabolite repression and transcription attenuation. Elevated levels of tryptophan induce transcription antitermination at one or more Rho factor-dependent termination sites in the leader region of the operon. Induction requires translation of a 24-residue coding region, tnaC, located in the 319-nucleotide transcribed leader region preceding tnaA, the structural gene for tryptophanase. In the present paper, we show that two bacterial species that lack tryptophanase activity, Enterobacter aerogenes and Salmonella typhimurium, allow tryptophanase induction and tna operon regulation when they carry a plasmid containing the E. coli tna operon. The role of tnaC in induction was examined by introducing mutations in a 24-nucleotide segment of tnaC of E. coli surrounding and including the crucial Trp codon 12. Some mutations resulted in a noninducible phenotype; these mostly introduced nonconservative amino acid substitutions in TnaC. Other mutations had little or no effect; these generally were in third positions of codons or introduced conservative amino acid replacements. A tryptophan-inserting, UGA-reading glutamine suppressor tRNA was observed to restore partial regulation when Trp codon 12 of tnaC was changed to UGA. Stop codons introduced downstream of Trp codon 12 in all three reading frames established that induction requires translation in the natural tnaC reading frame. Our findings suggest that the TnaC leader peptide acts in cis to prevent Rho-dependent termination.[1]


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