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Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jan;79(2):468-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2010.07460.x. Epub 2010 Nov 21.

Organization of the LEE1 operon regulatory region of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 and activation by GrlA.

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School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.


Expression of the genes in the locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE) in enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli is primarily co-ordinated by expression of the LEE1 operon. GrlA is a LEE-encoded transcription regulator that has been proposed to be involved in the regulation of expression of the LEE1 operon. We describe a simple plasmid-based system to investigate the LEE1 operon regulatory region and to study GrlA-dependent effects. We report that GrlA can activate transcription initiation at the LEE1 P1 promoter by binding to a target located within the 18-base-pair spacer between the promoter -10 and -35 elements, which were defined by mutational analysis. Shortening this spacer to 17 base pairs increases P1 promoter activity and short-circuits GrlA-dependent activation. Hence, at the P1 promoter, the action of GrlA resembles that of many MerR family transcription activators at their target promoters.

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