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J Mol Biol. 1996 Oct 11;262(5):615-28.

Identification of the bases in the ompF regulatory region, which interact with the transcription factor OmpR.

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Section of Microbiology, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Expression of the outer membrane protein OmpF of Escherichia coli K-12 is influenced by a variety of environmental signals. Most of the signals are thought to regulate OmpF expression at the level of transcription initiation. A key element of this regulation is the interaction between the transcriptional factor OmpR and the cis-acting regulatory region of ompF. In this study, we used a combination of DNase I, dimethyl sulfate and hydroxyl radical footprinting analysis and DNA migration retardation assays to identify the bases within the ompF regulatory region that are in contact with OmpR. Our results indicate that the -107 to -39 region of ompF contains three individual binding sites and that a single OmpR-binding site is capable of interacting with two OmpR molecules. We also establish that a single OmpR-binding site is composed of two half-sites and that both half-sites are required for the formation of stable OmpR/DNA complexes. Comparisons of the sequences protected by OmpR indicate that an OmpR-binding site spans approximately 18 bp and has two highly conserved G/C base-pairs that are separated by three nucleotides. Although the three OmpR-binding sites we identified exhibit limited sequence similarity, this may reflect the fact that two of the sites are incapable of binding OmpR independently and can bind OmpR only if adjacent to another OmpR-binding site. Finally, our DNA migration retardation assays suggest that phosphorylation stimulates the cooperative interactions between OmpR molecules bound at neighboring sites. Therefore, this study provides a detailed understanding of how OmpR interacts with its binding sites immediately upstream of ompF and serves as a foundation for studying how phosphorylation of OmpR results in the regulation of ompF expression in response to environmental signals.

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