Colicins are plasmid-encoded bacteriocins active against Escherichia coli and closely related species of Enterobacteriaceae. They promote microbial diversity and genetic diversity in E. coli populations. Colicin synthesis is characteristically repressed by the LexA protein, the key regulator of the SOS response. As colicins are released by cell lysis, generally two LexA dimers binding to two overlapping SOS boxes control untimely expression. Nevertheless, genetic organization of the colicin clusters, additional transcription regulators as well as post-transcriptional mechanisms involving translational efficiency of the lysis and activity genes fine-tune colicin expression and protect against lethality of colicin production.

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