Molecular characterization of the tdc operon of Escherichia coli K-12.

T. J. Goss, H. P. Schweizer, P. Datta

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34 Scopus citations


The nucleotide sequence of a 2-kilobase DNA fragment of the tdc region of Escherichia coli K-12, previously cloned in this laboratory, revealed two open reading frames, tdcC and ORFX, downstream from the tdcB gene (formerly designated tdc) encoding biodegradative threonine dehydratase. A 24-base-pair sequence separated tdcC from the dehydratase coding region, and an untranslated region of 60 nucleotides, which contains a recognizable -10 consensus sequence, was found between tdcC and ORFX. The deduced amino acid sequence of tdcC showed it to be a large hydrophobic polypeptide of 431 amino acid residues, whereas ORFX coded for a small 135-residue polypeptide lacking glutamine and tryptophan. A computer-assisted sequence analysis revealed no similarity among the tdcB, tdcC, and ORFX polypeptides, and a search of the GenBank database failed to detect similarity with any other known proteins. The tdc genes and ORFX showed similar codon usage and, in analogy with other bacterial genes, showed codon usage typical for genes expressed at an intermediate level. Transcriptional analysis with S1 nuclease indicated two distinct transcription start sites upstream of the tdcB gene in regions previously identified as promoterlike elements P1 and P2. Interestingly, expression of tdcB and tdcC, but not ORFX, was contingent upon the presence of P1. These results taken together tend to suggest that the biodegradative threonine dehydratase is the second gene in a polycistronic transcription unit constituting a novel operon (tdcABC) in E. coli implicated in anaerobic threonine metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5352-5359
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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