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J Bacteriol. 1999 Sep;181(18):5624-35.

Inactivation and regulation of the aerobic C(4)-dicarboxylate transport (dctA) gene of Escherichia coli.

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Krebs Institute for Biomolecular Research, Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, United Kingdom.


The gene (dctA) encoding the aerobic C(4)-dicarboxylate transporter (DctA) of Escherichia coli was previously mapped to the 79-min region of the linkage map. The nucleotide sequence of this region reveals two candidates for the dctA gene: f428 at 79.3 min and the o157a-o424-o328 (or orfQMP) operon at 79.9 min. The f428 gene encodes a homologue of the Sinorhizobium meliloti and Rhizobium leguminosarum H(+)/C(4)-dicarboxylate symporter, DctA, whereas the orfQMP operon encodes homologues of the aerobic periplasmic-binding protein- dependent C(4)-dicarboxylate transport system (DctQ, DctM, and DctP) of Rhodobacter capsulatus. To determine which, if either, of these loci specify the E. coli DctA system, the chromosomal f428 and orfM genes were inactivated by inserting Sp(r) or Ap(r) cassettes, respectively. The resulting f428 mutant was unable to grow aerobically with fumarate or malate as the sole carbon source and grew poorly with succinate. Furthermore, fumarate uptake was abolished in the f428 mutant and succinate transport was approximately 10-fold lower than that of the wild type. The growth and fumarate transport deficiencies of the f428 mutant were complemented by transformation with an f428-containing plasmid. No growth defect was found for the orfM mutant. In combination, the above findings confirm that f428 corresponds to the dctA gene and indicate that the orfQMP products play no role in C(4)-dicarboxylate transport. Regulation studies with a dctA-lacZ (f428-lacZ) transcriptional fusion showed that dctA is subject to cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP)-dependent catabolite repression and ArcA-mediated anaerobic repression and is weakly induced by the DcuS-DcuR system in response to C(4)-dicarboxylates and citrate. Interestingly, in a dctA mutant, expression of dctA is constitutive with respect to C(4)-dicarboxylate induction, suggesting that DctA regulates its own synthesis. Northern blot analysis revealed a single, monocistronic dctA transcript and confirmed that dctA is subject to regulation by catabolite repression and CRP. Reverse transcriptase-mediated primer extension indicated a single transcriptional start site centered 81 bp downstream of a strongly predicted CRP-binding site.

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