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Microbiol Rev. 1994 Sep; 58(3): 466–490.
PMCID: PMC372976

The leucine-responsive regulatory protein, a global regulator of metabolism in Escherichia coli.


The leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) regulates the expression of more than 40 genes and proteins in Escherichia coli. Among the operons that are positively regulated by Lrp are operons involved in amino acid biosynthesis (ilvIH, serA)), in the biosynthesis of pili (pap, fan, fim), and in the assimilation of ammonia (glnA, gltBD). Negatively regulated operons include operons involved in amino acid catabolism (sdaA, tdh) and peptide transport (opp) and the operon coding for Lrp itself (lrp). Detailed studies of a few members of the regulon have shown that Lrp can act directly to activate or repress transcription of target operons. A substantial fraction of operons regulated by Lrp are also regulated by leucine, and the effect of leucine on expression of these operons requires a functional Lrp protein. The patterns of regulation are surprising and interesting: in some cases activation or repression mediated by Lrp is antagonized by leucine, in other cases Lrp-mediated activation or repression is potentiated by leucine, and in still other cases leucine has no effect on Lrp-mediated regulation. Current research is just beginning to elucidate the detailed mechanisms by which Lrp can mediate such a broad spectrum of regulatory effects. Our view of the role of Lrp in metabolism may change as more members of the regulon are identified and their regulation characterized, but at this point Lrp seems to be important in regulating nitrogen metabolism and one-carbon metabolism, permitting adaptations to feast and to famine.

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