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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Nov;6(22):3257-65.

The Fis protein: it's not just for DNA inversion anymore.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, UCLA School of Medicine 90024-1737.


Higher-order nucleoprotein complexes are associated with many biological processes. In bacteria the formation of these macromolecular structures for DNA recombination, replication, and transcription often requires not only the participation of specific enzymes and co-factors, but also a class of DNA-binding proteins collectively known as 'nucleoid-associated' or 'histone-like' proteins. Examples of this class of proteins are HU, Integration Host Factor, H-NS, and Fis. Fis was originally identified as the factor for inversion stimulation of the homologous Hin and Gin site-specific DNA recombinases of Salmonella and phage Mu, respectively. This small, basic, DNA-bending protein has recently been shown to function in many other reactions including phage lambda site-specific recombination, transcriptional activation of rRNA and tRNA operons, repression of its own synthesis, and oriC-directed DNA replication. Cellular concentrations of Fis vary tremendously under different growth conditions which may have important regulatory implications for the physiological role of Fis in these different reactions. The X-ray crystal structure of Fis has been determined and insights into its mode of DNA binding and mechanisms of action in these disparate systems are being made.

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