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J Mol Biol. 1985 Nov 5;186(1):107-15.

Transcriptional regulation of a periodically controlled flagellar gene operon in Caulobacter crescentus.


Temporal regulation of flagellar gene expression in Caulobacter crescentus has been examined by a detailed analysis of the flbG-flaJ-flbH-flaK hook operon. The approximate location of the promoter for this 4.4 X 10(3) base-pair transcriptional unit was determined by deletion mapping, and the flaK gene was shown by nucleotide sequencing to code for the hook protein. flaK messenger RNA was quantified by S1 nuclease mapping with an internal restriction fragment of the gene as the 5'-labeled DNA probe. The results of these assays provide the first direct evidence that periodic expression of a flagellar gene in the C. crescentus cell cycle is regulated at the transcriptional level. The effect of altering the time of gene duplication in the cell cycle was examined by subcloning the complete hook operon on a plasmid that replicates throughout the S phase. The normal periodicity of flaK transcription and translation was maintained in this merodiploid strain, which suggests that replication alone is not sufficient to initiate flagellar gene expression. We also show that the three adjacent transcriptional units III, IV and V are required in trans for transcription of the book operon, and we discuss the possible role of these genes in the hierarchical regulation of the flagellar gene expression.

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