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J Bacteriol. 1989 Jul;171(7):4026-30.

Pertussis toxin promoter sequences involved in modulation.

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Scalvo Research Center, Siena, Italy.


Previous analysis of the pertussis toxin (PT) promoter has shown that expression of PT requires a trans-activating factor encoded by the vir locus and a 170-base-pair DNA sequence upstream from the transcription start site containing a 21-base-pair direct repeat sequence crucial trans-activation (R. Gross and R. Rappuoli, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:3913-3917, 1988). In this paper we extend the analysis to the modulative response to environmental stimuli. We show that modulation acts at the transcriptional level and occurs only in phase I bacteria. Modulation also requires a functional vir locus and the same promoter region of 170 base pairs. We show that, in addition to the previously identified direct repeat, even the sequences downstream from position -117 are required for trans-activation and modulation and that the deletion of four cytosine residues at position -31 causes the inactivation of the promoter. The kinetics of the change in transcription show that the PT promoter can be shut off very rapidly by adding 50 mM MgSO4 to the medium, whereas resumption of transcription after removal of the modulative agents from the medium is slow.

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