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J Bacteriol. 1998 Dec;180(24):6468-75.

The arcABDC gene cluster, encoding the arginine deiminase pathway of Bacillus licheniformis, and its activation by the arginine repressor argR.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie de l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium.


The arginine deiminase pathway enables Bacillus licheniformis to grow anaerobically on arginine. Both the presence of arginine and anaerobiosis are needed to trigger induction of the pathway. In this study we have cloned and sequenced the arc genes encoding the pathway. They appear clustered in an operon-like structure in the order arcA (arginine deiminase), arcB (ornithine carbamoyltransferase), arcD (putative arginine-ornithine antiporter), arcC (carbamate kinase). It was found that B. licheniformis has an arginine repressor, ArgR, homologous to the B. subtilis arginine repressor AhrC. Mutants affected in argR were isolated. These mutants have lost both repression by arginine of the anabolic ornithine carbamoyltransferase and induction of the arginine deiminase pathway. Electrophoretic band shift experiments and DNase I footprinting revealed that in the presence of arginine, ArgR binds to a site upstream from the arc promoter. The binding site is centered 108 nucleotides upstream from the transcription start point and contains a single Arg box.

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