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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1991 Aug;57(8):2255-9.

Transcription of the Escherichia coli fliC gene is regulated by metal ions.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


luxAB gene fusions in the Escherichia coli genome were used to screen for clones displaying transcriptional changes in the presence of aluminum. One clone was found that contained a luciferase gene fusion in which transcription was increased in the presence of aluminum and which was subsequently shown to be induced by copper, iron, and nickel. Cloning of the metal-regulated gene, hybridization to the ordered phage lambda bank of the E. coli chromosome, and sequencing of DNA adjacent to the luxAB fusion revealed that the insertion occurred within the fliC (hag) gene of E. coli. This gene encodes flagellin, the filament subunit of the bacterial motility organ, and is under the control of several regulatory cascades. These results suggest that environmental metals may play a role in the regulation of the motility potential of E. coli and that this bioluminescent gene fusion clone (or derivatives thereof) may be used to prepare a biosensor for the rapid detection of metal contamination in water samples.

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