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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2004 Oct 20;88(2):189-203.

Stochastic modeling of the phase-variable pap operon regulation in uropathogenic Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Regulation of the pap operon in uropathogenic Escherichia coli is phase variable. This phase variation arises from competition between regulatory proteins at two sites within the regulatory region, GATC(dist) and GATC(prox). We have used the available literature data to design a stochastic model of the molecular interactions of pap regulation and expression during growth in a non-glucose environment at 37 degrees C. The resulting wild-type model is consistent with reported data. The wild-type model served as a basis for two "in silico" mutant models for investigating the role of key regulatory components, the GATC(dist) binding site and the PapI interaction with Lrp at the GATC(prox) site. Our results show that competition at GATC(dist) is required for phase variation, as previously reported. However, our results suggest that removal of competition at GATC(dist) does not affect initial state dependence. Additionally, the PapI involvement in Lrp translocation from GATC(prox) to GATC(dist) is required for the initial state dependence but not for phase variation. Our results also predict that pap expression is maximized at low growth rates and minimized at high growth rates. These predictions provide a basis for further experimental investigation.

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