Filamentous phage IKe mRNAs conserve form and function despite divergence in regulatory elements.
As a means of determining whether there has been selection to conserve the basic pattern of filamentous phage mRNAs, the major mRNAs representing genes II to VIII have been defined for a phage distantly related to the Ff group specific for Escherichia coli hosts bearing F pili. Phage IKe has a genome with 55% identity with the Ff genome and infects E. coli strains bearing N pili. The results reveal a remarkably similar pattern of overlapping polycistronic mRNAs with a common 3' end and unique 5' ends. The IKe mRNAs, like the Ff phage mRNAs, represent a combination of primary transcripts and processed RNAs. However, examination of the sequences containing the RNA endpoint positions revealed that effectively the only highly conserved regulatory element is the rho-independent terminator that generates the common 3' end. Promoters and processing sites have not been maintained in identical positions, but frequently are placed so as to yield RNAs with similar coding function. By conserving the pattern of transcription and processing despite divergence in the regulatory elements and possibly the requirements for host, endoribonucleases, the results argue that the pattern is not simply fortuitous.
Stump, MD; Madison-Antenucci, S; Kokoska, RJ; Steege, DA
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