Mutants in the cyclic AMP binding site of the cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) of Escherichia coli have been constructed by oligonucleotide-directed mutagenesis. They have been phenotypically characterized and their ability to enhance the expression of catabolite-repressible operons has been tested. In addition, the binding of cyclic nucleotides to the mutants has been investigated. It is shown that the six mutants made fall into one of three classes: (i) those that bind cyclic AMP better than the wild type protein (Ser-62→Ala) and result in greater transcription enhancement; (ii) those that bind cyclic AMP similarly to wild type (Ser-83→Ala, Ser-83→Lys, Thr-127→Ala, Ser-129→Ala); and (iii) those that do not bind cyclic AMP at all (Arg-82→Leu). Implications of these findings with respect to present models of the cyclic nucleotide binding pocket of CRP are discussed.

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