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J Mol Biol. 1990 Nov 20;216(2):251-60.

Upstream regulatory sequence for transcriptional activator XylR in the first operon of xylene metabolism on the TOL plasmid.

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Department of Biochemistry, Yamaguchi University School of Medicine, Japan.


Transcription of the first operon coding for m-xylene-degrading enzymes on the TOL plasmid of Pseudomonas putida is activated by the xylR gene product in the presence of m-xylene. The operon has the consensus sequence of the ntr/nif promoters at -24 and -12 regions, and the transcription is dependent on an RNA polymerase containing a sigma factor NtrA (RpoN or sigma 54). Deletion derivatives of the upstream sequence of the operon promoter were made in vitro and connected with the xylE gene on a plasmid. Their promoter activities were analyzed in Escherichia coli by monitoring catechol 2,3-dioxygenase activity, the xylE gene product. A cis-acting DNA element was identified, which is required for activation of the operon promoter by XylR protein in the presence of the inducer. This regulatory sequence of about 40 base-pairs in length was located 150 base-pairs upstream from the transcription start site. Analysis of the mutants containing insertions between the upstream regulatory sequence and the promoter sequence demonstrated strong dependence of the activation upon helical periodicity of DNA. The regulatory sequence functioned in the inverse orientation or at a distance of more than 1 x 10(3) base-pairs upstream from the promoter though less efficient. These results indicated that this upstream regulatory sequence might be the binding site for XylR protein. DNA-loop formation through protein-protein interaction between XylR protein attached to the upstream sequence and the NtrA-containing RNA polymerase bound by the promoter sequence was suggested for activation of the operon transcription. A sequence similar to the regulatory sequence of the first operon of xylene metabolism was found in the upstream region of the xylS gene, which is also activated by XylR protein in the presence of m-xylene.

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