The Escherichia coli metF gene codes for 5,10-methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase, the enzyme that leads to the formation of N-methyltetrahydrofolate, supplying the methyl group of methionine. Transcription of metF, as well as most of the methionine genes, is repressed by the metJ gene product complexed with S-adenosylmethionine. A metF'-'lacZ gene fusion was used to isolate mutants that have altered expression from the metF promoter. The nucleotide sequences of the metF regulatory region from five such mutants were determined. The mutations were located in the region previously defined as the potential target of the methionine repressor by its similarity to other binding sites. The mutationally defined metF operator thus consists of a 40-base-pair-long region, with five 8-base-pair imperfect palindromes spanning the metF transcription start. The altered operators do not recognize the purified repressor in an in vitro transcription-translation system, although the repressor binds efficiently to the metF wild-type operator
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