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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014 Jan;80(1):226-34. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02793-13. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Synthetic promoters functional in Francisella novicida and Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.


In this work, we describe the identification of synthetic, controllable promoters that function in the bacterial pathogen Francisella novicida, a model facultative intracellular pathogen. Synthetic DNA fragments consisting of the tetracycline operator (tetO) flanked by a random nucleotide sequence were inserted into a Francisella novicida shuttle plasmid upstream of a promoterless artificial operon containing the reporter genes cat and lacZ. Fragments able to promote transcription were selected for based on their ability to drive expression of the cat gene, conferring chloramphenicol resistance. Promoters of various strengths were found, many of which were repressed in the presence of the tetracycline repressor (TetR) and promoted transcription only in the presence of the TetR inducer anhydrotetracycline. A subset of both constitutive and inducible synthetic promoters were characterized to find their induction ratios and to identify their transcription start sites. In cases where tetO was located between or downstream of the -10 and -35 regions of the promoter, control by TetR was observed. If the tetO region was upstream of the -35 region by more than 9 bp, it did not confer TetR control. We found that three of three promoters isolated in F. novicida functioned at a comparable level in E. coli; however, none of the 10 promoters isolated in E. coli functioned at a significant level in F. novicida. Our results allowed us to isolate minimal F. novicida promoters of 47 and 48 bp in length.

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