An 11-subunit protein called trp RNA binding Attenuation Protein (TRAP) controls attenuation of the tryptophan biosynthetic (trpEDCFBA) operon in Bacillus subtilis. Tryptophan-activated TRAP binds to 11 (G/U)AG repeats in the 5' leader region of trp mRNAs, and downregulates expression of the operon by promoting transcription termination prior to the structural genes. Anti-TRAP (AT) is an antagonist that binds to tryptophan-activated TRAP and prevents TRAP from binding to RNA, thereby upregulating expression of the trp genes. AT forms trimers, and multiple trimers bind to a TRAP 11mer. It is not known how many trimers must bind to TRAP in order to interfere with RNA binding. Studies of isolated TRAP and AT showed that AT can prevent TRAP from binding to the trp leader RNA but cannot dissociate a pre-formed TRAP-RNA complex. Here, we show that AT can prevent TRAP-mediated termination of transcription by inducing dissociation of TRAP from the nascent RNA when it has bound to fewer than all 11 (G/U)AG repeats. The 5'-most region of the TRAP binding site in the nascent transcript is most susceptible to dissociation from TRAP. We also show that one AT trimer bound to TRAP 11mer reduces the affinity of TRAP for RNA and eliminates TRAP-mediated transcription termination in vitro.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.