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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Oct 14;100(21):12057-62. Epub 2003 Oct 1.

The L box regulon: lysine sensing by leader RNAs of bacterial lysine biosynthesis genes.

Author information

  • 1Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Abstract

Expression of amino acid biosynthesis genes in bacteria is often repressed when abundant supplies of the cognate amino acid are available. Repression of the Bacillus subtilis lysC gene by lysine was previously shown to occur at the level of premature termination of transcription. In this study we show that lysine directly promotes transcription termination during in vitro transcription with B. subtilis RNA polymerase and causes a structural shift in the lysC leader RNA. We find that B. subtilis lysC is a member of a large family of bacterial lysine biosynthesis genes that contain similar leader RNA elements. By analogy with related regulatory systems, we designate this leader RNA pattern the "L box." Genes in the L box family from Gram-negative bacteria appear to be regulated at the level of translation initiation rather than transcription termination. Mutations of B. subtilis lysC that disrupt conserved leader features result in loss of lysine repression in vivo and loss of lysine-dependent transcription termination in vitro. The identification of the L box pattern also provides an explanation for previously described mutations in both B. subtilis and Escherichia coli lysC that result in lysC overexpression and resistance to the lysine analog aminoethylcysteine. The L box regulatory system represents an example of gene regulation using an RNA element that directly senses the intracellular concentration of a small molecule.

PMID:
14523230
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC218712
Free PMC Article

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