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Microbiology. 1998 Aug;144 ( Pt 8):2113-23.

Transcription and transcript processing in the sdhCDAB-sucABCD operon of Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Krebs Institute for Biomolecular Research, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, UK.


The genes encoding succinate dehydrogenase (sdhCDAB), the specific components of the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (ODH, E1o and E2o; sucAB) and succinyl-CoA synthetase (sucCD) form a cluster containing two promoters at 16.3 min in the chromosome of Escherichia coli: Psdh sdhCDAB-Psuc sucAB-sucCD. The gene encoding the lipoamide dehydrogenase component of both the 2-oxoglutarate and pyruvate dehydrogenase complexes (E3; lpdA) is the distal gene of another cluster containing two promoters located at 2.7 min: Ppdh pdhR-aceEF-Plpd lpdA. The responses of the suc and lpd promoters to different environmental conditions and to regulator defects were investigated with appropriate lacZ fusions, in order to understand how expression of the sucAB genes is co-regulated with other genes in the sdhCDAB-sucABCD cluster and with lpdA expression. Expression from the suc promoter was repressed by IHF and partially activated by sigma 38 but it was not regulated by ArcA, FNR, CRP, FruR or Fis, and not repressed by glucose or anaerobiosis, indicating that the well-established catabolite and anaerobic repression of ODH synthesis is imposed elsewhere. In contrast, the lpd promoter was repressed by both glucose (via a CRP-independent mechanism) and anaerobiosis (mediated by ArcA), and activated by Fis, but it was not regulated by FNR, FruR, IHF or sigma 38. These observations support the view that transcription of the sucABCD genes is primarily initiated and regulated at the upstream sdh promoter, and that the lpd promoter is independently co-regulated with Psdh (primarily by ArcA-mediated repression) rather than with Psuc. Direct evidence for co-transcription of the entire sdhCDAB-sucABCD region from Psdh was obtained by detecting a 10 kb transcript in rnc and rne mutants, but not in the parental strains. Three RNaseIII-specific processing sites, which contribute to the extreme instability of the readthrough transcript, were identified in the sdhCDAB-sucABCD intergenic region. Other sites of endonuclease processing were located by interpreting the patterns of transcript subfragments observed in Northern blotting.

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