Expression of a cloned K88ac adhesion antigen determinant: Identification of a new adhesion cistron and role of a vector-encoded promoter

M. Kehoe, M. Winther, G. Dougan

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The determinant for the K88ac adherence antigen of porcine enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli has been cloned previously onto the vector plasmid pBR322 to form the K88ac-pBR322 hybrid plasmid pMK005 Further studies on the expresson of the K88ac antigen from pMK005 are presented in this paper. Expression was found to be dependent mainly on the P1 promoter of the pBR322 vector. The natural K88ac promoter was apparently not cloned from the original parental K88ac plasmid. The P1 promoter was deleted and replaced by a DNA sequence encoding the promoter-operator region of the E. coli tryptophan (Trp) operon. Cells harboring the Trp-pMK005 hybrid plasmid expressed high levels of K88ac antigen when the Trp promoter was repressed. If the promoter was derepressed either by growing the cells in low concentrations of tryptophan or in the presence of indole acrylic acid, growth of the cells harboring the Trp-pMK005 hybrid plasmid was inhibited. A quantitative assay was used to measure the levels of K88ac antigen expressed by cells harboring different pMK005::Tn5 plasmids. All cells were found to express a reduced level of K88ac antigen, providing evidence that a single transcription unit, initiating at promoter P1 of pBR322, may be involved in the expression of the K88ac antigen. By constructing specific deletion and insertion mutants of pMK005, a fifth adhesion cistron, tentatively named adhE, was identified and mapped at the proximal end of the K88ac determinant. Although the cistron is required for high-level expresion of K88ac surface-associated fimbriae, as yet no gene product has been assigned to adhE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1071-1077
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1983
Externally publishedYes

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