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A functional genetic switch from the lactococcal bacteriophage TP901-1, deciding which of two divergently transcribing promoters becomes most active and allows this bi-stable decision to be inherited in future generations requires a DNA region of less than 1 kb. The fragment encodes two repressors, CI and MOR, transcribed from the PR and PL promoters respectively. CI can repress the transcription of the mor gene at three operator sites (OR, OL, and OD), leading to the immune state. Repression of the cI gene, leading to the lytic (anti-immune) state, requires interaction between CI and MOR by an unknown mechanism, but involving a CI:MOR complex. A consensus for putative MOR binding sites (OM sites), and a common topology of three OM sites adjacent to the OR motif was here identified in diverse phage switches that encode CI and MOR homologs, in a search for DNA sequences similar to the TP901-1 switch. The OR site and all putative OM sites are important for establishment of the anti-immune repression of PR, and a putative DNA binding motif in MOR is needed for establishment of the anti-immune state. Direct evidence for binding between CI and MOR is here shown by pull-down experiments, chemical crosslinking, and size exclusion chromatography. The results are consistent with two possible models for establishment of the anti-immune repression of cI expression at the PR promoter.


Margit Pedersen, Jesper Tvenge Neergaard, Johan Cassias, Kim Krighaar Rasmussen, Leila Lo Leggio, Kim Sneppen, Karin Hammer, Mogens Kilstrup. Repression of the lysogenic PR promoter in bacteriophage TP901-1 through binding of a CI-MOR complex to a composite OM-OR operator. Scientific reports. 2020 May 26;10(1):8659

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PMID: 32457340

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