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Mol Microbiol. 1988 Jan;2(1):141-52.

Role of the intercistronic region in post-transcriptional control of gene expression in the histidine transport operon of Salmonella typhimurium: involvement of REP sequences.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


The high-affinity histidine permease of Salmonella typhimurium is encoded by a four-gene operon containing a large intercistronic region located between the first gene (hisJ) and the three distal genes (hisQ, hisM, hisP). The level of expression of hisJ is 30-fold greater than that of hisP. In order to investigate the role of the intercistronic region in intra-operonic control of gene expression, we have isolated MudII-mediated lacZ gene fusions to hisQ, hisM and hisP. We have used these fusions to isolate and analyse mutants that have altered levels of expression of the hisQ gene, the first gene downstream from the intercistronic region. The results indicate that intra-operonic regulation is due to a combination of factors including efficiency of translational initiation, mRNA degradation, and retroregulation of hisJ expression. They also suggest that the REP (Repetitive Extragenic Palindromic) sequences, which are located in the hisJ-hisQ intercistronic region, may interfere with translation of the hisQ gene and affect upstream messenger RNA stability by protecting it from 3' to 5' nuclease degradation (in agreement with data presented by Newbury et al., 1987).

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