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J Bacteriol. 1993 Sep;175(17):5595-603.

Isoleucine synthesis in Corynebacterium glutamicum: molecular analysis of the ilvB-ilvN-ilvC operon.

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Institut für Biotechnologie, Forschungszentrum, Jülich, Germany.


Acetohydroxy acid synthase (AHAS) and isomeroreductase (IR) catalyze subsequent reactions in the flux of metabolites towards isoleucine, valine, leucine, and pantothenate. A 4,705-bp DNA fragment from Corynebacterium glutamicum known to code for AHAS and IR was sequenced and analyzed by Northern (RNA blot) analysis. As in other bacteria, the AHAS of this gram-positive organism is encoded by two genes, ilvB and ilvN. Gene disruption verified that these genes encode the single AHAS activity in C. glutamicum. The start of ilvB was determined by amino-terminal sequencing of a fusion peptide. By Northern analysis of the ilvBNC cluster, three in vivo transcripts of 3.9, 2.3, and 1.1 kb were identified, corresponding to ilvBNC, ilvNC, and ilvC messages, respectively. The ilvC transcript (encoding IR) was by far the most abundant one. With a clone from which the ilvB upstream regions had been deleted, only the ilvNC and ilvC transcripts were synthesized, and with a clone from which the ilvN upstream regions had been deleted, only the smallest ilvC transcript was formed. It is therefore concluded that in the ilv operon of C. glutamicum, three promoters are active. The amounts of the ilvBNC and ilvNC transcripts increased in response to the addition of alpha-ketobutyrate to the growth medium. This was correlated to an increase in specific AHAS activity, whereas IR activity was not increased because of the relatively large amount of the ilvC transcript present under all conditions assayed. Therefore, the steady-state level of the ilvBNC and ilvNC messages contributes significantly to the total activity of the single AHAS. The ilvC transcript of this operon, however, is regulated independently and present in a large excess, which is in accord with the constant IR activities determined.

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