The trp RNA-Binding Attenuation Protein of Bacillus subtilis Regulates Translation of the Tryptophan Transport Gene trpP (yhaG) by Blocking Ribosome Binding

Helen Yakhnin, Hong Zhang, Alexander V. Yakhnin, Paul Babitzke

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Expression of the Bacillus subtilis tryptophan biosynthetic genes (trpEDCFBA and pabA [trpG]) is regulated in response to tryptophan by TRAP, the trp RNA-binding attenuation protein. TRAP-mediated regulation of the tryptophan biosynthetic genes includes a transcription attenuation and two distinct translation control mechanisms, TRAP also regulates translation of trpP (yhaG), a single-gene operon that encodes a putative tryptophan transporter. Its translation initiation region contains triplet repeats typical of TRAP-regulated mRNAs. We found that regulation of trpP and pabA is unaltered in a rho mutant strain. Results from filter binding and gel mobility shift assays demonstrated that TRAP binds specifically to a segment of the trpP transcript that includes the untranslated leader and translation initiation region. While the affinities of TRAP for the trpP and pabA transcripts are similar, TRAP-mediated translation control of trpP is much more extensive than for pabA. RNA footprinting revealed that the trpP TRAP binding site consists of nine triplet repeats (five GAG, three UAG, and one AAG) that surround and overlap the trpP Shine-Dalgarno (S-D) sequence and translation start codon. Results from toeprint and RNA-directed cell-free translation experiments indicated that tryptophan-activated TRAP inhibits TrpP synthesis by preventing binding of a 30S ribosomal subunit. Taken together, our results establish that TRAP regulates translation of trpP by blocking ribosome binding. Thus, TRAP coordinately regulates tryptophan synthesis and transport by three distinct mechanisms: attenuation transcription of the trpEDCFBA operon, promoting formation of the trpE S-D blocking hairpin, and blocking ribosome binding to the pabA and trpP transcripts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-286
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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