Control ofrecA expression in Escherichia coli

Xiaomei Jin, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The recA gene is essential for SOS response induction, for inducible DNA repair and for homologous recombination in E. coli. The level of recA expression is significant for these functions. A basal level of about 1000 molecules of RecA protein is sufficient for homologous recombination of the cell and is essential for the induction of the SOS response. Based on previous observations, two models regarding the origin of the basal RecA protein were postulated. One was that it comes from the leaky expression of the LexA repressed promoter. The other was that it is from another weak but constitutive promoter. The first part of this thesis is to study these possibilities. An $\Omega$ cartridge containing the transcription terminator of gene 32 of T4 phage was exploited to define a second promoter for recA expression. Insertion of this $\Omega$ cartridge downstream of the known promoter gave rise to only minor expression. Purification and N-terminus sequencing of the RecA protein from the insertion mutant did not support the existence of a second promoter. To determine whether the basal RecA is due to the leaky expression of the known LexA repressed promoter, recA expression of a SOS induction minus strain (basal level expression of recA) was compared with that of a recA promoter down mutation recA1270. The result demonstrated that there is leaky expression from the LexA repressed promoter. All the evidence supports the conclusion that there is only one promoter for both basal and induced expression levels of recA. Several translation enhancer sequences which are complementary to different regions of the 16S rRNA were found to exist in recA mRNA. The leader sequence of recA mRNA is highly complementary to a region of the 16S rRNA. Thus it appeared that recA expression could be regulated at post-transcriptional levels. The second part of this thesis is focused on the study of the post-transcriptional control of recA expression. Deletions of the complementary regions were created to examine their effect on recA expression. The results indicated that all of the complementary regions were important for the normal expression of recA and their effects were post-transcriptional. RNA secondary structures of wild type recA mRNA was inspected and a stem-loop structure was revealed. The expression down mutations at codon 10 and 11 were found to stabilize this structure. The conclusions of the second part of this thesis are that there is post-transcriptional control for recA expression and the leader sequence of recA mRNA plays more than one role in the control of recA expression.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biochemistry

Recommended Citation

Jin, Xiaomei, "Control ofrecA expression in Escherichia coli" (1992). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9329537.