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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Aug;85(15):5444-8.

Alternative DNA loops regulate the arabinose operon in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02254.


The araCBAD regulatory region of Escherichia coli contains two divergently oriented promoters and three sites to which AraC, the regulatory protein of the operon, can bind. This paper presents the results of in vivo dimethyl sulfate "footprinting" experiments to monitor occupancy of the three AraC sites and measurements of activity of the two promoters. These measurements were made both in the absence of the inducer arabinose and at various times after arabinose addition to growing cells containing the wild-type ara regulatory region or the regulatory region containing various deletions and point mutations. The data lead to the conclusion that two different DNA loops can form in the ara regulatory region. These loops are generated by AraC protein molecules binding to two different DNA sites and binding to each other. One of these loops predominates in the absence of arabinose and plays a major role in repressing activity of one of the promoters. Upon the addition of arabinose the amount of the first loop type, the repression loop, decreases and the amount of a second loop increases. Formation of this second loop precludes the counterproductive formation of the repression loop.

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