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J Mol Biol. 1992 Oct 20;227(4):996-1008.

Positive and negative effects of DNA bending on activation of transcription from a distant site.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


Transcription of the Escherichia coli glnHPQ operon, which encodes components of the high-affinity glutamine transport system, is activated by nitrogen regulator I (NRI)-phosphate in response to nitrogen limitation. NRI-phosphate binds to sites upstream from the sigma 54-dependent glnHp2 promoter and activates transcription by catalyzing the isomerization of the closed sigma 54-RNA polymerase promoter complex to an open complex. On linear DNA, the initiation of glnHp2 transcription requires in addition to NRI-phosphate the presence of integration host factor (IHF), which binds to a site located between the NRI-binding sites and the promoter. On supercoiled DNA, IHF does not play an essential role, but enhances the activation of transcription by NRI-phosphate. We found that at a mutant glnHp2 promoter with increased affinity for sigma 54-RNA polymerase, the initiation of transcription can be activated equally well by NRI-phosphate in the presence or absence of IHF. Binding of IHF to its site does not increase the binding of sigma 54-RNA polymerase to the glnHp2 promoter; instead, our data suggest that IHF bends the DNA to align the activator with the closed sigma 54-RNA polymerase promoter complex to facilitate the interactions that result in open complex formation. In the absence of IHF, NRI-phosphate can activate transcription whether its binding sites are on the same face of the DNA helix as the sigma 54-RNA polymerase or on the opposite face. IHF enhances transcription when the three proteins are located on the same face of the helix, but strongly inhibits transcription when any one of the proteins is located on the opposite face.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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