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Cell Rep. 2012 Jul 26;2(1):150-61. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.06.004. Epub 2012 Jul 12.

Operator sequence alters gene expression independently of transcription factor occupancy in bacteria.

Author information

1
Department of Physics, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.

Abstract

A canonical quantitative view of transcriptional regulation holds that the only role of operator sequence is to set the probability of transcription factor binding, with operator occupancy determining the level of gene expression. In this work, we test this idea by characterizing repression in vivo and the binding of RNA polymerase in vitro in experiments where operators of various sequences were placed either upstream or downstream from the promoter in Escherichia coli. Surprisingly, we find that operators with a weaker binding affinity can yield higher repression levels than stronger operators. Repressor bound to upstream operators modulates promoter escape, and the magnitude of this modulation is not correlated with the repressor-operator binding affinity. This suggests that operator sequences may modulate transcription by altering the nature of the interaction of the bound transcription factor with the transcriptional machinery, implying a new layer of sequence dependence that must be confronted in the quantitative understanding of gene expression.

PMID:
22840405
PMCID:
PMC3616187
DOI:
10.1016/j.celrep.2012.06.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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