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Gene. 2012 Jul 1;502(1):27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2012.03.064. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Novel members of the phosphate regulon in Escherichia coli O157:H7 identified using a whole-genome shotgun approach.

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Department of Applied Chemistry, National Defense Academy, 1-10-20 Hashirimizu, Yokosuka 239–8686, Japan.


Escherichia coli PhoB protein is the transcriptional activator of the phosphate (pho) regulon genes involved in phosphate utilization. To gain further insight into the potential roles of PhoB in the phosphate starvation response, we attempted to identify PhoB-regulated promoters using a random shotgun library of E. coli O157:H7 genomic fragments that were fused to a promoterless lacZ reporter gene on a low-copy-number plasmid. Using this approach, numerous chromosomal regions containing phosphate-starvation-inducible (psi) promoters, including nearly all known pho regulon promoters, were identified. β-Galactosidase and electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that transcription from the 22 identified psi promoters was directly regulated by PhoB. PhoB-binding sites within the promoter regions were identified by DNase I footprinting. The genes for yoaI, rpsG, galP, rnr, udp, sstT, ybiM, and vgrE were located downstream of these promoters, indicating that these genes are members of the pho regulon. Surprisingly, the other 14 promoters were located within sense or antisense strands of open reading frames (ORFs), and/or at a distance from ORFs. Our results suggest that PhoB has broader roles in gene regulation and RNA expression in E. coli strains than was previously supposed. Our shotgun-library cloning approach represents a powerful tool for identifying promoters activated or repressed by transcriptional regulators that respond to environmental stimuli.

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