DNA recognition by the KorA proteins of IncP alpha and IncP beta plasmids RK2 and R751

K Kostelidou, Christopher Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


The KorA repressor proteins of IncP-1 plasmids belong to a growing family of plasmid-encoded repressors that regulate partitioning genes, and in the IncP-1 plasmids coordinate these with expression of replication and transfer genes as well. Both KorA(RK2) (IncP-1 alpha) and KorA(R751) (IncP-1 beta) recognise the 5'-GTTTAGCTAAAC-3' palindrome. Reporter gene assays showed that KorA proteins from these two main subgroups of IncP-1 plasmids show specificity for their own promoter/operators and this preference was confirmed with in vitro binding studies using gel mobility shift assays on one representative promoter. Class I (high affinity) operators for KorA(RK2) are flanked by an A-A-A/T sequence in the upstream half; the T base was shown to greatly influence strong repression. A C-A-G triplet was present in the same region in the R751 O(A) sequences and the G base was accordingly found to be important for strong KorA(R751) repression. An obvious difference between the two KorA proteins is a histidine to serine change at the C-proximal end of the putative recognition helix of the HTH motif (aa 56). An IncP-1 alpha KorAH56S mutant protein had higher affinity for all operators but had improved more on R751 operators than on RK2 operators. This indicates that KorA of RK2 is not maximised for DNA binding activity and that the aa difference at position 56 may play a role in differentiation between alpha and beta KorA operators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2002


  • replication control
  • transcriptional repressor
  • helix-turn-helix motif
  • regulation
  • operator specificity


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