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Mol Microbiol. 1996 Feb;19(3):483-93.

Synthesis of the beta and beta' subunits of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase is autogenously regulated in vivo by both transcriptional and translational mechanisms.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


Numerous experiments have indicated that the synthesis of RNA polymerase (beta beta' alpha 2 sigma 70) in Escherichia coli is autogenously regulated. In the present study, we have examined expression of the rpoB and rpoC genes which encode the beta and beta' subunits of RNA polymerase. These genes are the distal cistrons of the rplKAJLrpoBC ribosomal protein-RNA polymerase transcription unit. Both transcriptional (operon) and translational (gene) fusions of either rpoB or rpoC to the lacZ reporter were used to monitor their in vivo expression by inserting single copies of these fusions into the bacterial chromosome on integration-proficient lambda vectors. In order to examine the expression of the rpoBC genes in response to varied intracellular concentrations of the RNA polymerase subunits, a series of expression plasmids carrying the rpoB, rpoC, rpoA (alpha) and rpoD (sigma 70) genes in different combinations were then introduced into these cells. Elevated concentrations of either beta or beta' were found to repress the expression of both rpoB and rpoC at the translational level. However, the simultaneous increase in the concentration of all the subunits that comprise holoenzyme repressed the transcription of rpoBC. To determine the site of this repression, additional operon fusions were utilized which placed lacZ downstream of each of the transcriptional regulatory sites of this gene cluster, including two promoters, rplKp and rplJp, and a transcriptional attenuator in the rplL-rpoB intercistronic region. Expression from these fusions showed that transcriptional repression is achieved primarily by reducing initiation at both upstream promoters, coupled with a small increase in termination at the attenuator.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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