The DNA sequence changes of 31 mutations altering the attenuation control mechanism of the histidine operon are presented. These mutations are discussed in terms of a model for operon regulation that involves a his leader peptide gene whose translation regulates formation of alternative stem-loop structures in the his leader messenger RNA. Three suppressible mutations generate nonsense codons (ochre and UGA) in the his leader peptide gene, demonstrating that translation of this gene is essential for operon expression. Eight mutations presumably reduce the efficiency of translation initiation of the his leader peptide gene, causing reduced levels of operon expression. Five of these mutations directly alter the leader peptide gene initiator codon (AUG). Three mutations alter sequences just in front of the initiator codon and presumably alter the ribosome recognition site. Fourteen mutations reduce the stability of the his leader mRNA stem-loop structures that are alternatives to the attenuator stem. The properties of these mutations provide support for the role of these stem-loop structures in preventing formation of the attenuator stem. Finally, we show that mutations that alter the attenuator stem suppress hisO mutations. This lends support to the proposal that these hisO mutations cause reduced levels of operon expression due to excessive attenuator stem formation. The properties of these 31 mutations provide substantial support for the model of his operon regulation described in this paper.
ASJC Scopus subject areas