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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Predicting the strength of UP-elements and full-length E. coli σE promoters.

  • Author(s): Rhodius, Virgil A;
  • Mutalik, Vivek K;
  • Gross, Carol A
  • et al.

Predicting the location and strength of promoters from genomic sequence requires accurate sequenced-based promoter models. We present the first model of a full-length bacterial promoter, encompassing both upstream sequences (UP-elements) and core promoter modules, based on a set of 60 promoters dependent on σ(E), an alternative ECF-type σ factor. UP-element contribution, best described by the length and frequency of A- and T-tracts, in combination with a PWM-based core promoter model, accurately predicted promoter strength both in vivo and in vitro. This model also distinguished active from weak/inactive promoters. Systematic examination of promoter strength as a function of RNA polymerase (RNAP) concentration revealed that UP-element contribution varied with RNAP availability and that the σ(E) regulon is comprised of two promoter types, one of which is active only at high concentrations of RNAP. Distinct promoter types may be a general mechanism for increasing the regulatory capacity of the ECF group of alternative σ's. Our findings provide important insights into the sequence requirements for the strength and function of full-length promoters and establish guidelines for promoter prediction and for forward engineering promoters of specific strengths.

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