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Mol Gen Genet. 1989 May;217(1):85-96.

The Escherichia coli dam gene is expressed as a distal gene of a new operon.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


DNA containing the Escherichia coli dam gene and sequences upstream from this gene were cloned from the Clarke-Carbon plasmids pLC29-47 and pLC13-42. Promoter activity was localized using pKO expression vectors and galactokinase assays to two regions, one 1650-2100 bp and the other beyond 2400 bp upstream of the dam gene. No promoter activity was detected immediately in front of this gene; plasmid pDam118, from which the nucleotide sequence of the dam gene was determined, is shown to contain the pBR322 promoter for the primer RNA from the pBR322 rep region present on a 76 bp Sau3A fragment inserted upstream of the dam gene in the correct orientation for dam expression. The nucleotide sequence upstream of dam has been determined. An open reading frame (ORF) is present between the nearest promoter region and the dam gene. Codon usage and base frequency analysis indicate that this is expressed as a protein of predicted size 46 kDa. A protein of size close to 46 kDa is expressed from this region, detected using minicell analysis. No function has been determined for this protein, and no significant homology exist between it and sequences in the PIR protein or GenBank DNA databases. This unidentified reading frame (URF) is termed urf-74.3, since it is an URF located at 74.3 min on the E. coli chromosome. Sequence comparisons between the regions upstream of urf-74.3 and the aroB gene show that the aroB gene is located immediately upstream of urf-74.3, and that the promoter activity nearest to dam is found within the aroB structural gene. This activity is relatively weak (about 15% of that of the E. coli gal operon promoter). The promoter activity detected beyond 2400 bp upstream of dam is likely to be that of the aroB gene, and is 3 to 4 times stronger than that found within the aroB gene. Three potential DnaA binding sites, each with homology of 8 of 9 bp, are present, two in the aroB promoter region and one just upstream of the dam gene. Expression through the site adjacent to the dam gene is enhanced 2- to 4-fold in dnaA mutants at 38 degrees C. Restriction site comparisons map these regions precisely on the Clarke-Carbon plasmids pLC13-42 and pLC29-47, and show that the E. coli ponA (mrcA) gene resides about 6 kb upstream of aroB.

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