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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1992 Apr;36(4):769-78.

Characterization of the tet(M) determinant of Tn916: evidence for regulation by transcription attenuation.

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Department of Biologic Science, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109.


The nucleotide sequence of the tetracycline resistance determinant tet(M), located on conjugative transposon Tn916 of Enterococcus faecalis, was determined and found to encode a 72,486-dalton protein exhibiting a high degree of homology with other tet(M) determinants. A short open reading frame corresponding to a 28-amino-acid peptide and containing a number of inverted repeat sequences was noted immediately upstream of tet(M), suggesting that regulation might occur by a mechanism involving transcriptional attenuation. Transcription analyses found this to indeed be the case, showing that the expression of tet(M) resulted from an extension of a small transcript representing the upstream leader region into the resistance determinant. Exposure of cells to tetracycline resulted in a significant increase in the amount of tet(M) transcription; this increase could be explained on the basis of increased transcriptional read-through from the upstream transcript. A model suggesting how transcriptional attenuation might operate in this system is presented.

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