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  • The copper-inducible copAB operon in Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is regulated at transcriptional and translational levels.

The copper-inducible copAB operon in Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri is regulated at transcriptional and translational levels.

Microbiology (Reading, England) (2019-01-29)
Eliane Cristina de Freitas, Amanda Piovesan Ucci, Elaine Cristina Teixeira, Gisele Audrei Pedroso, Eduardo Hilario, Vitória Fernanda Bertolazzi Zocca, Gabriela Barbosa de Paiva, Henrique Ferreira, Danielle Biscaro Pedrolli, Maria Célia Bertolini
ABSTRACT

Upstream open reading frames (ORFs) are frequently found in the 5'-flanking regions of genes and may have a regulatory role in gene expression. A small ORF (named cohL here) was identified upstream from the copAB copper operon in Xanthomonascitri subsp. citri (Xac). We previously demonstrated that copAB expression was induced by copper and that gene inactivation produced a mutant strain that was unable to grow in the presence of copper. Here, we address the role of cohL in copAB expression control. We demonstrate that cohL expression is induced by copper in a copAB-independent manner. Although cohL is transcribed, the CohL protein is either not expressed in vivo or is synthesized at undetectable levels. Inactivation of cohL (X. citri cohL polar mutant strain) leads to an inability to synthesize cohL and copAB transcripts and consequently the inability to grow in the presence of copper. Bioinformatic tools predicted a stem-loop structure for the cohL-copAB intergenic region and revealed that this region may arrange itself in a secondary structure. Using in vitro gene expression, we found out that the structured 5'-UTR mRNA of copAB is responsible for sequestering the ribosome-binding site that drives the translation of copA. However, copper alone was not able to release the sequence. Based on the results, we speculate that cohL plays a role as a regulatory RNA rather than as a protein-coding gene.