Activation of transcription at divergent urea-dependent promoters by the urease gene regulator UreR

Sarah E.F. D'Orazio, Venetta Thomas, Carleen M. Collins

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27 Scopus citations


The Proteus mirabilis and plasmid-encoded urease loci contain seven contiguous structural and accessory genes (ureDABCEFG) and the divergently transcribed ureR, which codes for an AraC-like transcriptional activator. Previously, it was shown that the plasmid-encoded ureR to ureD intergenic region contained divergent promoters (ureRp and ureDp). Transcription from these promoters required both the effector molecule urea and the activator protein UreR. In this report, we demonstrate that the P. mirabilis urease gene cluster contains similar divergent urea- and UreR-dependent promoters. The ureR gene products from either urease locus were able to activate transcription at both the plasmid-encoded and P. mirabilis promoters. The minimal concentration of urea required to activate transcription at ureRp or ureDp from either gene cluster was approximately 4 mM. The transcriptional start sites for the plasmid-encoded and P. mirabilis divergent promoters were similar in an Escherichia coli DH5α background, as determined by primer-extension analysis. However, in P. mirabilis HI4320, transcription of ureR initiated predominately at an alternative site. Physical mapping and inhibition studies were used to localize the UreR-binding sites within the plasmid-encoded ureRp and ureDp inter-genic sequences to regions of 68 bp and 86 bp, respectively. Gel shift analysis demonstrated that UreR bound to a 135 bp fragment in the approximate centre of the plasmid-encoded ureR to ureD intergenic region. The results presented here suggest that the P. mirabilis and plasmid-encoded urease gene clusters utilize similar mechanisms of transcriptional activation in response to urea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)643-655
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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