Abstract

The activity of any bacterial promoter is generally supposed to be set by its base sequence and the different transcription factors that bind in the local vicinity. Here, we review recent data indicating that the activity of the Escherichia coli lac operon promoter also depends upon its chromosomal location. Factors that affect promoter activity include the binding of nucleoid-associated proteins to neighbouring sequences, supercoiling and the activity of neighbouring promoters. We suggest that many bacterial promoters might be susceptible to similar position-dependent effects and we review recent data showing that the expression of mobile genes encoding antibiotic-resistance determinants is also location-dependent, both when carried on a bacterial chromosome or a conjugative plasmid.

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