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Mol Microbiol. 2012 May;84(3):463-85. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08036.x. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

The promoter architectural landscape of the Salmonella PhoP regulon.

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Section of Microbial Pathogenesis, Yale School of Medicine, 295 Congress Avenue, 354D, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


The DNA-binding protein PhoP controls virulence and Mg²⁺ homeostasis in the Gram-negative pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. PhoP regulates expression of a large number of genes that differ both in their ancestry and in the biochemical functions and physiological roles of the encoded products. This suggests that PhoP-regulated genes are differentially expressed. To understand how a bacterial activator might generate varied gene expression behaviour, we investigated the cis-acting promoter features (i.e. the number of PhoP binding sites, as well as their orientation and location with respect to the sites bound by RNA polymerase and the sequences that constitute the PhoP binding sites) in 23 PhoP-activated promoters. Our results show that natural PhoP-activated promoters utilize only a limited number of combinations of cis-acting features--or promoter architectures. We determine that PhoP activates transcription by different mechanisms, and that ancestral and horizontally acquired PhoP-activated genes have distinct promoter architectures.

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