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, 20 (1), 19-39

Expression of the Unc Genes in Escherichia Coli


Expression of the Unc Genes in Escherichia Coli

J E McCarthy. J Bioenerg Biomembr.


The unc (or atp) operon of Escherichia coli comprises eight genes encoding the known subunits of the proton-translocating ATP synthase (H+-ATPase) plus a ninth gene (uncI) of unknown function. The subunit stoichiometry of the H+-ATPase (alpha 3 beta 3 gamma 1 delta 1 epsilon 1 a1b2c10-15) requires that the respective unc genes be expressed at different rates. This review discusses the experimental methods applied to determining how differential synthesis is achieved, and evaluates the results obtained. It has been found that the primary level of control is translational initiation. The translational efficiencies of the unc genes are determined by primary and secondary mRNA structures within their respective translational initiation regions. The respective rates of translation are matched to the subunit requirements of H+-ATPase assembly. Finally, points of uncertainty remain and experimental strategies which will be important in future work are discussed.

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