Indexed on: 02 Jan '97Published on: 02 Jan '97Published in: The EMBO Journal
FIS, a site-specific DNA binding and bending protein, is a global regulator of gene expression in Escherichia coli. The ribosomal RNA promoter rrnB P1 is activated 3- to 7-fold in vivo by a FIS dimer that binds a DNA site immediately upstream of the DNA binding site for the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase (RNAP). In this report, we identify several FIS side chains important specifically for activation of transcription at rrnB P1. These side chains map to positions 68, 71 and 74, in and flanking a surface-exposed loop adjacent to the helix-turn-helix DNA binding motif of the protein. We also present evidence suggesting that FIS activates transcription at rrnB P1 by interacting with the RNAP alphaCTD. Our results suggest a model for FIS-mediated activation of transcription at rrnB P1 that involves interactions between FIS and the RNAP alphaCTD near the DNA surface. Although FIS and the transcription activator protein CAP have little structural similarity, they both bend DNA, use a similarly disposed activation loop and target the same region of the RNAP alphaCTD, suggesting that this is a common architecture at bacterial promoters.