Conservation and evolution of the rpsU‐dnaG‐rpoD macromolecular synthesis operon in bacteria

James Versalovic, Thearith Koeuth, Robert Britton, Kati Geszvain, James R. Lupski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The macromolecular synthesis (MMS) operon contains three esential genes (rpsU, dnaG, rpoD) whose products (S21, primase, sigma-70) are necessary for the initiation of protein, DNA, and RNA synthesis respectively. PCR amplifications with primers complementary to conserved regions within these three genes, and subsequent DNA sequencing of rpsU-dnaG PCR products, demonstrate that the three genes appear to be contiguous in 11 different Gram-negative species. Within the Gram-negative enteric bacterial lineage, the S1 amino acid sequence is absolutely conserved in 10 species examined. The putative nut(eq) antiterminator sequence in rpsU consists of two motifs, boxA and boxB, conserved in primary sequence and secondary structure. The terminator sequence, T1, located between rpsU and ddnaG is conserved at 31 positions in nine enterobacterial species, suggesting the importance of primary sequence in addition to secondary structure for transcription termination. The intergenic region between rpsuU and dnaG varies in size owing to the presence or absence of the Enterobacterial Repetitive Intergenic Consensus (ERIC) DNA element. The rpoD gene contains rearrangements involving a divergent sequence, although two carboxy-terminal regions which encode functional domains are conserved in primary sequence and spacing. Our data suggest that primary sequence divergence and DNA rearrangements in both coding and non-coding sequences account for the interspecies variation in operon structure. However, MMS operon gene organization and cis-acting regulatory sequences appear to be conserved in diverse bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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