The lactose operon of Escherichia coli is a paradigm system for quantitative understanding of gene regulation in prokaryotes. Yet, none of the many mathematical models built so far to study the dynamics of this system considered the fact that the Lac repressor regulates its own transcription by forming a transcriptional roadblock at the O3 operator site. Here we study the effect of autoregulation on intracellular LacI levels and also show that cAMP-CRP binding does not affect the efficiency of autoregulation. We built a mathematical model to study the role of LacI autoregulation in the lactose utilization system. Previously, it has been argued that negative autoregulation can significantly reduce noise as well as increase the speed of response. We show that the particular molecular mechanism, a transcriptional roadblock, used to achieve self-repression in the lac system does neither. Instead, LacI autoregulation balances two opposing states, one that allows quicker response to smaller pulses of external lactose, and the other that minimizes production costs in the absence of lactose.
We present the Flp-nick system, which allows introduction of a protein-bound nick at a single genomic site in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and thus mimics a stabilized topoisomerase I-DNA cleavage complex. We took advantage of a mutant Flp recombinase that can introduce a nick at a specific Flp recombinase recognition target site that has been integrated in the yeast genome. The genetic requirement for cells to cope with this insult is the same as for cells treated with camptothecin, which traps topoisomerase I-DNA cleavage complexes genome-wide. Hence, a single protein-bound nick is enough to kill cells if functional repair pathways are lacking. The Flp-nick system can be used to dissect repair, checkpoint and replication fork management pathways activated by a single genomic insult, and it allows the study of events at the damage site, which so far has been impossible to address.
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