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Colicin synthesis and cell death.

By R Spangler, S P Zhang, J Krueger and G Zubay


Colicin E1 is a small plasmid, containing the cea gene for colicin, the most prominent product of the plasmid. Colicin is a 56-kilodalton bacteriocin which is especially toxic to Escherichia coli cells that do not contain the plasmid. Under normal growth conditions very low levels of the plasmid are produced as a result of cea gene repression by the host LexA protein. Conditions that lower the concentration of LexA protein result in elevated levels of colicin synthesis. The LexA protein concentration can be lowered by exposing the cells to DNA-damaging reagents such as UV light or mitomycin C. This is because DNA damage signals the host SOS response; the response leads to activation of the RecA protease which degrades the LexA protein. DNA-damaging reagents result in very high levels of colicin synthesis and subsequent death of plasmid-bearing cells. Elevated levels of colicin are also produced in mutants of E. coli that are deficient in LexA protein. We found that comparably high levels of colicin can be produced in such mutants in the absence of cell death. In lexA strains carrying a defective LexA repressor, colicin synthesis shows a strong temperature dependence. Ten to twenty times more colicin is synthesized at 42 degrees C. This sharp dependence of synthesis on temperature suggests that there are factors other than the LexA protein which regulate colicin synthesis

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1985
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:219094
Provided by: PubMed Central
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