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J Bacteriol. 1989 Jul;171(7):3746-53.

Binding of the Citrobacter freundii AmpR regulator to a single DNA site provides both autoregulation and activation of the inducible ampC beta-lactamase gene.

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Department of Microbiology, University of UmeƄ, Sweden.


Citrobacter freundii encodes an inducible chromosomal beta-lactamase. Induction requires the product of the ampR gene, which is transcribed in the opposite orientation from the ampC beta-lactamase gene. We show here that the AmpR protein acts as a transcriptional activator by binding to a DNA region immediately upstream of the ampC promoter. The DNase I footprint pattern was not affected by growth in the presence of beta-lactam inducer or by the use of extracts prepared from cells carrying the ampD2 allele leading to semiconstitutive production of beta-lactamase. It is suggested that activation of AmpR facilitates binding or open complex formation for RNA polymerase at the ampC promoter. The AmpR-binding site overlaps the ampR promoter, and beta-galactosidase activity was decreased from an ampR-lacZ transcriptional fusion when AmpR was expressed from a coresident plasmid, suggesting that ampR is autogenously controlled. The AmpR protein belongs to a family of highly homologous transcriptional activators that includes LysR, which regulates the E. coli lysine synthetase gene, and the NodD protein, which regulates expression of a number of genes involved in nodulation in Rhizobium. The lack of sequence homology to any known beta-lactam-binding protein suggests that AmpR does not bind directly to the beta-lactam inducer but interacts with a second messenger of unknown nature.

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