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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Feb;11(4):605-18.

Leucine-responsive regulatory protein and deoxyadenosine methylase control the phase variation and expression of the sfa and daa pili operons in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City 84132.


The Escherichia coli operons daa and sfa encode F1845 and S pili, respectively. In this paper we show that the expression of these operons is under phase variation control at a transcriptional level. The transcription of both operons is dependent on the global regulator leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) and deoxyadenosine methylase (Dam). Lrp is required for methylation protection of two GATC sites located within conserved DNA sequences in the regulatory regions of these operons. These GATC sites are differentially methylated, establishing a methylation pattern which is characteristic of either the phase ON or phase OFF state. We also show that Lrp binds to the daa and sfa regulatory regions and that this binding is modulated by the methylation of the GATC sites. These results indicate that the phase variation of the daa and sfa operons is regulated by a mechanism involving differential binding of Lrp owing to methylation of GATC sites in the regulatory region, which is similar to the mechanism that controls phase variation of the pap operon.

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