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J Bacteriol. 1991 Mar; 173(6): 1951–1957.
PMCID: PMC207726

Lactose metabolism in Lactobacillus bulgaricus: analysis of the primary structure and expression of the genes involved.


The genes coding for the lactose permease and beta-galactosidase, two proteins involved in the metabolism of lactose by Lactobacillus bulgaricus, have been cloned, expressed, and found functional in Escherichia coli. The nucleotide sequences of these genes and their flanking regions have been determined, showing the presence of two contiguous open reading frames (ORFs). One of these ORFs codes for the lactose permease gene, and the other codes for the beta-galactosidase gene. The lactose permease gene is located in front of the beta-galactosidase gene, with 3 bp in the intergenic region. The two genes are probably transcribed as one operon. Primer extension studies have mapped a promoter upstream from the lactose permease gene but not the beta-galactosidase gene. This promoter is similar to those found in E. coli with general characteristics of GC-rich organisms. In addition, the sequences around the promoter contain a significantly higher number of AT base pairs (80%) than does the overall L. bulgaricus genome, which is rich in GC (GC content of 54%). The amino acid sequences obtained from translation of the ORFs are found to be highly homologous (similarity of 75%) to those from Streptococcus thermophilus. The first 460 amino acids of the lactose permease shows homology to the melibiose transport protein of E. coli. Little homology was found between the lactose permease of L. bulgaricus and E. coli, but the residues which are involved in the binding and the transport of lactose are conserved. The carboxy terminus is similar to that of the enzyme III of several phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase systems.

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Selected References

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