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Regulation of internal promoters in a zinc-responsive operon is influenced by transcription from upstream promoters

AuthorsNapolitano, M. ; Rubio, Miguel A. ; Luque, Ignacio
Issue Date2013
PublisherAmerican Society for Microbiology
CitationJournal of Bacteriology 195: 1285- 1293 (2013)
AbstractIn the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 (also known as Nostoc sp. strain PCC 7120), a zinc-responsive operon (all4725-all4721) has been described, which contains 4 distinct promoters. The two most upstream ones bind Zur with high affinity, whereas the other two do not or do so with a very low affinity. In this paper, a detailed characterization of the four promoters is presented, showing that all four were induced by metal depletion, and they were constitutively derepressed in a zur mutant, despite the two downstream promoters not being direct targets for this regulator. Crucially, induction by metal depletion of the two downstream promoters was abrogated when transcription initiated at the upstream promoters was interrupted by a polar insertion midway in the operon. In contrast, insertion of a nitrogen-responsive promoter at a roughly similar position provoked the two downstream promoters to adopt a regulatory pattern mimicking that of the inserted promoter. Thus, regulation of the two downstream promoters is apparently influenced by transcription from promoters upstream. Evidence is presented indicating that the activity of the two downstream promoters is kept basal in Anabaena by repression. A regulatory model compatible with these results is proposed, where promoters controlled by repression in bacterial operons may be subjected to a hierarchical regulation depending on their position in the operon. According to this model, internal promoters may respond to stimuli governing the activity of promoters upstream by an indirect regulation and to specific stimuli by a direct regulation.© 2013, American Society for Microbiology.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1128/JB.01488-12
issn: 0021-9193
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