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J Biol Rhythms. 2004 Apr;19(2):103-12.

Phase determination of circadian gene expression in Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3258, USA. sgolden@tamu.edu


The authors analyzed the upstream regulatory region of purF, a gene that is expressed in a minority phase that peaks at dawn (class 2 circadian phasing) in Synechococcus elongatus, to determine whether specific cis elements are responsible for this characteristic expression pattern. Fusions of various promoter-bearing fragments to luciferase reporter genes showed that normal class 2 phasing of purF expression was correlated with promoter strength. No specific cis element that is separable from the promoter was responsible for determining phase. Very weak promoter activity of unstable phasing was mapped to a 50-bp segment. Inclusion of sequences that flank this minimal promoter either upstream or downstream increased the promoter strength and stabilized the phase in class 2, but neither segment was individually necessary. Because the data suggested a role for the overall promoter context rather than a specific "phase element," the authors proposed that DNA topology is important in the phase determination of circadian gene expression in S. elongatus. To test this hypothesis, they fused the well-characterized DNA topology-dependent Escherichia coli fis promoter to luciferase and showed that it acts as a class 2 promoter in S. elongatus.

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