Regulation of the gua operon of Escherichia coli by the DnaA protein.
The guaBA operon determines production of the two enzymes required to convert hypoxanthine to guanine at the nucleotide level during guanine nucleotide biosynthesis. Two DnaA boxes, binding sites for the DNA replication-initiating DnaA protein, are present in the gua operon, one at the gua promoter (guaP) and the other within the guaB coding sequence. Regulation of the guaBA operon by DnaA protein was studied using strains carrying chromosomal gua-lacZ fusions. In these strains beta-galactosidase acts as a reporter enzyme for transcription initiated at guaP. When the intracellular levels of DnaA were increased (by induction of a multicopy plasmid carrying the dnaA gene fused to the tac promoter) transcription from the gua promoter was repressed. Reducing the intracellular level of DnaA, either by sequestration with an oriC plasmid or by placing a temperature-sensitive dnaA mutant at the restrictive temperature, resulted in increased transcription from guaP. Thus the transcriptional activity of the gua operon is coupled, through the DnaA protein, to the DNA replication cycle. Repression of guaP by DnaA was dependent on the presence of both boxes in the gua-lacZ fusion; constructs containing only the box at guaP were unaffected by DnaA.