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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Sep;41(6):1327-38.

The promoter of the operon encoding the F0F1 ATPase of Streptococcus pneumoniae is inducible by pH.

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Unidad de Genética Bacteriana (CSIC), Centro Nacional de Biología Fundamental, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, 28220 Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.


The genes encoding the subunits of the F0F1 membrane ATPase of Streptococcus pneumoniae were cloned and sequenced. The eight genes, transcribed to one mRNA, are organized in an operon encoding the c, a, b, delta, alpha, gamma, beta and epsilon subunits of 66, 238, 165, 178, 501, 292, 471 and 139 amino acid residues, respectively, that were expressed in an Escherichia coli system. To investigate the role of the ATPase in the regulation of the intracellular pH, the expression of the operon between pH 5.7 and 7.5 was studied. An increase in both the ATPase activity and the amount of the alpha and beta F1 subunits as shown by Western blot analysis was observed as the pH decreased. These increases were accompanied by an increase in the atp-specific mRNA, as shown by Northern blot and slot-blot analysis. Primer extension experiments and transcriptional fusions between the atp promoter and the reporter cat gene demonstrated that this pH-dependent increase in the mRNA was regulated at the level of initiation of transcription. Transcription of the operon occurs from a promoter with a consensus -35 box (TTGACA) and a -10 box (TACACT) that differs from the consensus (TATAAT). A point mutation at the -10 box of the promoter (change to TGCACT) avoided this increase, suggesting a role for this sequence in the pH-inducible regulation.

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