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Characterization of the regulon controlled by the leucine-responsive regulatory protein in Escherichia coli.

  • B R Ernsting
  • M R Atkinson
  • A J Ninfa
  • R G Matthews
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1992
  • Biology


The leucine-responsive regulatory protein (Lrp) has been shown to regulate, either positively or negatively, the transcription of several Escherichia coli genes in response to leucine. We have used two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to analyze the patterns of polypeptide expression in isogenic lrp+ and lrp mutant strains in the presence or absence of leucine. The absence of a functional Lrp protein alters the expression of at least 30 polypeptides. The expression of the majority of these polypeptides is not affected by the presence or absence of 10 mM exogenous leucine. Outer membrane porins OmpC and OmpF, glutamine synthetase (GlnA), the small subunit of glutamate synthase (GltD), lysyl-tRNA synthetase form II (LysU), a high-affinity periplasmic binding protein specific for branched-chain amino acids (LivJ), W protein, and the enzymes of the pathway converting threonine to glycine, namely, threonine dehydrogenase (Tdh) and 2-amino-3-ketobutyrate coenzyme A ligase (Kbl), were identified as members of the Lrp regulon by electrophoretic analysis. We have shown that Lrp is a positive regulator of glutamate synthase and glutamine synthetase and that exogenous leucine has little or no effect on the expression of these proteins. In strains carrying a glnL deletion and in strains carrying the glnL2302 allele, which directs the synthesis of a GlnL protein that is constitutively active, expression of glutamine synthetase is no longer regulated by Lrp, demonstrating that the effect of Lrp on glutamine synthetase levels is indirect and requires an intact glnL gene. lrp::Tn10 strains grow poorly when arginine or ornithine is present as the sole nitrogen source in the medium. On the bases of present studies and previous research, we propose that Lrp is involved in the adaptation of E. coli cells to major shifts in environment, such as those which occur when E. coli leaves the intestinal tract of its animal host. Several genes required for amino acid and peptide transport and catabolism are negatively regulated by Lrp, and other genes required for amino acid biosynthesis and ammonia assimilation in a nitrogen-poor environment are positively regulated by Lrp.

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