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J Mol Biol. 1988 Aug 5;202(3):397-406.

Saturation mutagenesis of the Tn10-encoded tet operator O1. Identification of base-pairs involved in Tet repressor recognition.

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Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie, Institut für Mikrobiologie und Biochemie der Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangen, F.R.G.


Saturation mutagenesis of Tn10-encoded tet operator O1 was performed by chemical synthesis of 30 sequence variants yielding all possible point mutations of an operator half side. Their effect on Tet repressor binding was scored by an in-vivo repressor titration system. Tet repressor affinities of selected operator mutants were further characterized in vitro by dissociation rate measurements. The O1 sequence spans 19 base-pairs. Out of these, all 18 palindromic base-pairs are involved in Tet repressor recognition. The central base-pair does not contribute to sequence-specific binding of Tet repressor. At position 1 a pyrimidine residue is sufficient for maximal affinity to the repressor. At positions 2, 3 and 4, each mutation reduces repressor binding at least tenfold. Mutations at positions 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 result in less drastic reductions of Tet repressor binding. Differential effects of mutations at a given position are used to deduce the chemical functions contacted by Tet repressor. The T.A to A.T transversion at position 9 increases Tet repressor affinity slightly, while all other mutations decrease repressor binding. The increased affinity of the wild-type tet operator O2 compared to wild-type O1 results from the addition of two favorable transversions at positions +/- 9 and an unfavorable T.A to C.G transition at position -7. Deletion or palindromic doubling of the central base-pair of the O1 palindrome reveals that the wild-type spacing of both operator half sides is crucial for efficient Tet repressor binding.

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