The cob operon of Salmonella typhimurium encodes enzymes required for synthesis of adenosyl-cobalamin (vitamin B12). The pdu operon encodes enzymes needed for use of propanediol as a carbon source, including an adenosyl-cobalamin-dependent enzyme, propanediol dehydratase. These two operons both map near min 41 of the S. typhimurium linkage map and are transcribed divergently. Here we report that the cob and pdu operons form a single regulon. Transcription of this regulon is induced by either glycerol or propanediol. The metabolism of these compounds is not required for induction. Propanediol induces the regulon either aerobically or anaerobically during growth on poor carbon sources. Aerobically glycerol induces only if its metabolism is prevented by a mutational block such as a glpK mutation. Under anaerobic conditions, glycerol induces in both glpK+ and glpK mutant strains during growth on poor carbon sources. A new class of mutations, pocR, prevents induction of the cob/pdu regulon by either propanediol or glycerol and causes a Cob- Pdu- phenotype. The pocR gene is located between the cob and pdu operons and appears to encode a trans-acting protein that acts as a positive regulator of both operons. Transcription of the pocR regulatory gene is induced, even without the PocR protein, during aerobic growth on poor carbon sources and during anaerobic respiration. With the functional PocR protein, transcription of the pocR gene is autoinduced by propanediol but not by glycerol. The growth conditions that increase pocR gene expression correlate with growth conditions that allow high induction of the cob/pdu regulon. A model for control of this regulon suggests that the PocR protein is a transcriptional activator of both the cob and pdu operons and that both glycerol and propanediol can individually serve as effectors of the PocR protein. We suggest that global control mechanisms cause variation in the level of the PocR protein; an increased level of the PocR protein permits higher induction by propanediol or glycerol
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