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J Mol Biol. 1988 Jun 20;201(4):663-73.

Structure and expression of the ompB operon, the regulatory locus for the outer membrane porin regulon in Salmonella typhimurium LT-2.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.


The ompB operon of Salmonella typhimurium encodes a positive transcriptional regulator OmpR and an inner membrane protein EnvZ. Both proteins are needed for the proper expression of the outer membrane proteins OmpC and OmpF. We have determined the nucleotide sequence of the ompB locus and its adjacent regions. A comparison between the S. typhimurium and Escherichia coli sequences revealed that the ompB locus is highly conserved. The sequence data also showed that ompR and envZ form an operon, where the coding regions overlap by four base-pairs. Utilizing ompR-lacZ and envZ-lacZ gene fusions, the translational levels of expression of these two genes were measured, showing that ompR is considerably more efficiently expressed than envZ. Analysis of ompR frameshift mutations showed that translation of envZ is almost totally dependent on the translation of the upstream gene ompR. The mechanism of this translational coupling appears to be a reinitiation of the ribosome at the overlapping region of the two genes. The characteristics of the OmpR and EnvZ proteins were in agreement with the known functions and cellular locations of these proteins. OmpR was found to contain a putative DNA binding site, while EnvZ contained two hydrophobic stretches typical of transmembrane regions. Both OmpR and EnvZ show extensive homologies with many proteins from a number of different origins, all of which function in pairs and through which environmental signals modulate gene expression. Hence, the tightly coupled synthesis of these proteins seems to be essential in eliciting a proper response in the transmembrane regulation of gene expression.

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