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J Bacteriol. 1992 Jan; 174(2): 415–425.
PMCID: PMC205732

cysQ, a gene needed for cysteine synthesis in Escherichia coli K-12 only during aerobic growth.


The initial steps in assimilation of sulfate during cysteine biosynthesis entail sulfate uptake and sulfate activation by formation of adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate, conversion to 3'-phosphoadenosine 5'-phosphosulfate, and reduction to sulfite. Mutations in a previously uncharacterized Escherichia coli gene, cysQ, which resulted in a requirement for sulfite or cysteine, were obtained by in vivo insertion of transposons Tn5tac1 and Tn5supF and by in vitro insertion of resistance gene cassettes. cysQ is at chromosomal position 95.7 min (kb 4517 to 4518) and is transcribed divergently from the adjacent cpdB gene. A Tn5tac1 insertion just inside the 3' end of cysQ, with its isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactopyranoside-inducible tac promoter pointed toward the cysQ promoter, resulted in auxotrophy only when isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactopyranoside was present; this conditional phenotype was ascribed to collision between converging RNA polymerases or interaction between complementary antisense and cysQ mRNAs. The auxotrophy caused by cysQ null mutations was leaky in some but not all E. coli strains and could be compensated by mutations in unlinked genes. cysQ mutants were prototrophic during anaerobic growth. Mutations in cysQ did not affect the rate of sulfate uptake or the activities of ATP sulfurylase and its protein activator, which together catalyze adenosine 5'-phosphosulfate synthesis. Some mutations that compensated for cysQ null alleles resulted in sulfate transport defects. cysQ is identical to a gene called amtA, which had been thought to be needed for ammonium transport. Computer analyses, detailed elsewhere, revealed significant amino acid sequence homology between cysQ and suhB of E. coli and the gene for mammalian inositol monophosphatase. Previous work had suggested that 3'-phosphoadenoside 5'-phosphosulfate is toxic if allowed to accumulate, and we propose that CysQ helps control the pool of 3'-phosphoadenoside 5'-phosphosulfate, or its use in sulfite synthesis.

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