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Cell. 1987 Dec 24;51(6):1131-43.

Differential mRNA stability controls relative gene expression within a polycistronic operon.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Dundee, Scotland.


In this paper we demonstrate a role for mRNA stability in controlling relative gene expression within a polycistronic operon. The polycistronic malEFG operon of E. coli contains two REP sequences (highly conserved inverted repeats) within the malE-malF intercistronic region. Deletion of these REP sequences from the chromosomal operon not only destabilizes upstream malE mRNA, but also results in a 9-fold reduction in the synthesis of MalE protein. A single REP sequence seems to be as efficient as the two normally found in this intergenic region at stabilizing translationally active upstream mRNA. The widespread occurrence of REP sequences and other sequences that could potentially stabilize upstream mRNA suggests that this mechanism of control of gene expression may be rather common.

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