Transcription activation at two semi-synthetic Escherichia coli promoters, CC(-41.5) and CC(-72.5), is dependent on the cyclic AMP receptor protein (CRP) that binds to sites centred 41.5 and 72.5 bp upstream from the respective transcription startpoints. An UP-element that can bind the C-terminal domain of the RNA polymerase (RNAP) alpha-subunit was cloned upstream of the DNA site for CRP at CC(-41.5) and downstream of the DNA site for CRP at CC(-72.5). In both cases CRP-dependent promoter activity was increased by the UP-element, but CRP-independent activity was not increased. DNase I footprinting was exploited to investigate the juxtaposition of bound CRP and RNAP alpha-subunits. In both cases, CRP and RNAP alpha-subunits occupy their cognate binding sites in ternary CRP-RNAP promoter complexes. RNAP alpha-subunits can occupy the UP-element in the absence of CRP, but this is not sufficient for open complex formation. The positive effects of binding RNAP alpha-subunits upstream of the DNA site for CRP at -41.5 are suppressed if the UP-element is incorrectly positioned.

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