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Mol Biol Cell. Aug 1992; 3(8): 913–926.
PMCID: PMC275648

A developmentally regulated Caulobacter flagellar promoter is activated by 3' enhancer and IHF binding elements.


The transcription of a group of flagellar genes is temporally and spatially regulated during the Caulobacter crescentus cell cycle. These genes all share the same 5' cis-regulatory elements: a sigma 54 promoter, a binding site for integration host factor (IHF), and an enhancer sequence, known as the ftr element. We have partially purified the ftr-binding proteins, and we show that they require the same enhancer sequences for binding as are required for transcriptional activation. We have also partially purified the Caulobacter homolog of IHF and demonstrate that it can facilitate in vitro integrase-mediated lambda recombination. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we provide the first demonstration that natural enhancer sequences and IHF binding elements that reside 3' to the sigma 54 promoter of a bacterial gene, flaNQ, are required for transcription of the operon, in vivo. The IHF protein and the ftr-binding protein is primarily restricted to the predivisional cell, the cell type in which these promoters are transcribed. flaNQ promoter expression is localized to the swarmer pole of the predivisional cell, as are other flagellar promoters that possess these regulatory sequences 5' to the start site. The requirement for an IHF binding site and an ftr-enhancer element in spatially transcribed flagellar promoters indicates that a common mechanism may be responsible for both temporal and polar transcription.

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