Sub-cloning experiments aimed at precisely locating the E. coli aroA gene, which encodes the shikimate pathway enzyme 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate synthase, showed that in certain constructions, which remain capable of complementing an auxotrophic aroA mutation, expression of aroA is reduced. DNA sequence analysis revealed that a sequence approx. 1200 base pairs (bp) upstream of aroA is necessary for its expression. An open reading frame was identified in this region which encodes a protein of 362 amino acids with a calculated Mr of 39,834 and which ends 70 bp before the start of the aroA coding sequence. This gene has been identified as serC, the structural gene for 3-phosphoserine aminotransferase, an enzyme of the serine biosynthetic pathway. Both genes are expressed as a polycistronic message which is transcribed from a promotor located 58 bp upstream of serC. Evidence is presented which confirms that the aroA and serC genes constitute an operon which has the novel feature of encoding enzymes from two different amino acid biosynthetic pathways.

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