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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the steps involved in prokaryotic gene regulation
  • Explain the roles of activators, inducers, and repressors in gene regulation

The DNA of prokaryotes is organized into a circular chromosome supercoiled in the nucleoid region of the cell cytoplasm. Proteins that are needed for a specific function, or that are involved in the same biochemical pathway, are encoded together in blocks called operons . For example, all of the genes needed to use lactose as an energy source are coded next to each other in the lactose (or lac ) operon.

In prokaryotic cells, there are three types of regulatory molecules that can affect the expression of operons: repressors, activators, and inducers. Repressors are proteins that suppress transcription of a gene in response to an external stimulus, whereas activators are proteins that increase the transcription of a gene in response to an external stimulus. Finally, inducers are small molecules that either activate or repress transcription depending on the needs of the cell and the availability of substrate.

A DNA sequence that codes for proteins is referred to as the coding region. Just before the coding region is the transcriptional start site    . This is the region of DNA to which RNA polymerase binds to initiate transcription. The promoter sequence is upstream of the transcriptional start site; each operon has a sequence within or near the promoter to which proteins (activators or repressors) can bind and regulate transcription. A DNA sequence called the operator sequence is encoded between the promoter region and the first coding gene. This operator    contains the DNA code to which the repressor protein can bind.

11.2a catabolite activator protein (cap): an activator regulator

Just as repressors serve as negative regulators , there are proteins that bind to the operator sequences that act as a positive regulator    to turn genes on and activate them. For example, when glucose is scarce, E. coli bacteria can turn to other sugar sources for fuel. To do this, new genes to process these alternate genes must be transcribed. When glucose levels drop, cyclic AMP (cAMP) begins to accumulate in the cell. The cAMP molecule is a signaling molecule that is involved in glucose and energy metabolism in E. coli . When glucose levels decline in the cell, accumulating cAMP binds to the positive regulator catabolite activator protein (CAP)    , a protein that binds to the promoters of operons that control the processing of alternative sugars. When cAMP binds to CAP, the complex binds to the promoter region of the genes that are needed to use the alternate sugar sources ( [link] ). In these operons, a CAP binding site is located upstream of the RNA polymerase binding site in the promoter. This increases the binding ability of RNA polymerase to the promoter region and the transcription of the genes.

The lac operon consists of a promoter, an operator, and three genes named lacZ, lacY, and lacA that are located in sequential order on the DNA. In the absence of cAMP, the CAP protein does not bind the DNA. RNA polymerase binds the promoter, and transcription occurs at a slow rate. In the presence of cAMP, a CAP–cAMP complex binds to the promoter and increases RNA polymerase activity. As a result, the rate of RNA synthesis is increased.
When glucose levels fall, E. coli may use other sugars for fuel but must transcribe new genes to do so. As glucose supplies become limited, cAMP levels increase. This cAMP binds to the CAP protein, a positive regulator that binds to an operator region upstream of the genes required to use other sugar sources.

11.2b the lac Operon: an inducer operon

Inducible operons have proteins that bind to activate or repress transcription depending on the local environment and the needs of the cell. The lac operon is a typical inducible operon. As mentioned previously, E. coli is able to use other sugars as energy sources when glucose concentrations are low. To do so, the cAMP–CAP protein complex serves as a positive regulator to induce transcription. One such sugar source is lactose. The lac operon    encodes the genes necessary to acquire and process the lactose from the local environment. CAP binds to the operator sequence upstream of the promoter that initiates transcription of the lac operon. However, for the lac operon to be activated, two conditions must be met. First, the level of glucose must be very low or non-existent. Second, lactose must be present. Only when glucose is absent and lactose is present will the lac operon be transcribed ( [link] ). This makes sense for the cell, because it would be energetically wasteful to create the proteins to process lactose if glucose was plentiful or lactose was not available.

Art connection

The lac operon consists of a promoter, an operator, and three genes named lacZ, lacY, and lacA. RNA polymerase binds to the promoter. In the absence of lactose, the lac repressor binds to the operator and prevents RNA polymerase from transcribing the operon. In the presence of lactose, the repressor is released from the operator, and transcription proceeds at a slow rate. Binding of the cAMP–CAP complex to the promoter stimulates RNA polymerase activity and increases RNA synthesis. However, even in the presence of the cAMP–CAP complex, RNA synthesis is blocked if the repressor binds to the promoter.
Transcription of the lac operon is carefully regulated so that its expression only occurs when glucose is limited and lactose is present to serve as an alternative fuel source.

In E. coli , the trp operon is on by default, while the lac operon is off. Why do you think this is the case?

If glucose is absent, then CAP can bind to the operator sequence to activate transcription. If lactose is absent, then the repressor binds to the operator to prevent transcription. If either of these requirements is met, then transcription remains off. Only when both conditions are satisfied is the lac operon transcribed ( [link] ).

Signals that Induce or Repress Transcription of the lac Operon
Glucose CAP binds Lactose Repressor binds Transcription
+ - - + No
+ - + - Some
- + - + No
- + + - Yes

Watch an animated tutorial about the workings of lac operon here.

Section summary

The regulation of gene expression in prokaryotic cells occurs at the transcriptional level. There are three ways to control the transcription of an operon: repressive control, activator control, and inducible control. Repressive control, typified by the trp operon, uses proteins bound to the operator sequence to physically prevent the binding of RNA polymerase and the activation of transcription. Therefore, if tryptophan is not needed, the repressor is bound to the operator and transcription remains off. Activator control, typified by the action of CAP, increases the binding ability of RNA polymerase to the promoter when CAP is bound. In this case, low levels of glucose result in the binding of cAMP to CAP. CAP then binds the promoter, which allows RNA polymerase to bind to the promoter better. In the last example—the lac operon—two conditions must be met to initiate transcription. Glucose must not be present, and lactose must be available for the lac operon to be transcribed. If glucose is absent, CAP binds to the operator. If lactose is present, the repressor protein does not bind to its operator. Only when both conditions are met will RNA polymerase bind to the promoter to induce transcription.

Questions & Answers

memory of development brain of the human psychologist
SERAJ Reply
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Ananya
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Shilan
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Gil
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Shilan
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Daniella
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Isaiah
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Sara
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androi
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Shilan
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Daniella
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Shilan
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Shilan
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Shilan
working
Daniella
hey everyone this Mahmoud
Mahmoud
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Mahmoud
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Shilan
Hello
Jobe
how is it going people?
Tomasz
kind
Alter
thanks
Alter
hi..!
Alter
yes we'll
Alter
yes we'll
Alter
how did psychology begin?
Valerie Reply
of psychologys commencement, the traces can be seen in the work of Aristotle, where he talk about soul and body, likewise work in durrant, de anima, all these were somewhere supporting dualism, in which soul could exist separately from body
amaan
but if you talk about the moder psychology, Gustav fechner, is credited with performing scientific experiments, basis of his experiments in psychology with his studies perception.
amaan
does psychology deal with love?
Mohammed Reply
Maybe, i think
edem
I definitely would say yes
Clara
how so
Isaiah
*triarchic
Meredith
there are so many different reasons why you can fall in love with someone, many of them develope subconsciously -> psychology
Clara
love messes with the brain, a lot, ergo I believe that Psychology does indeed deal with love
I would like an example as to what and how you think it deals with.
Tyler
how can I discover that this individual has a long-term memory and shot- term memory?
Namuaha
what is synapse
Katie Reply
In the central nervous system, a synapse is a small gap at the end of a neuron that allows a signal to pass from one neuron to the next. synapse are found where nerve cells connect with other nerve cells
Najeem
a synapse the connection is where a neuron cell connects to another neuron cell.
Shaun
good
Jobe
what is psychology
Jobe
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Mariah Reply
WHT u mean?
usef
yes
MD
heyy, may i join the conversation please?
edem Reply
yes of course
Najeem
how to avoid theory of bias confirmation in real life
Scar
yes
Jobe
hello
Bhavin
hello to all
Genevieve
hey, may I join the conversation?
samra
salaam
Ibrahim
so i cn even do this after ba hons in psychology?
Avneet
the only eligibility criteria is that you should have 50% of aggregate in your psychology papers. (bachelors)
syeda
okay thank you so much❤ have a lovely day🙂
Avneet
you're welcome. glad it helped ^_^
syeda
To pursue a career as a psychotherapist you'll have to do your bachelors in psychology. (bsc honors is preferable). since there are many fields and you've chosen as a therapist. a masters degree in clinical psychology or therapy and family counseling is preferable.
syeda
so i cn even do this after ba hons in psychology?
Avneet
yes you can.
syeda
you're welcome. glad it helped ^_^
syeda
hello
Vhikkie
yh
Parker
hello
Avneet
is there any psychotherapist here? i need to know the qualification one hve to pursue.
Avneet
I'm clinic psychologist...
Shilan
Hey. I'm pursuing BA in Clinical Psychology
Aakarshan
the only eligibility criteria is that you should have 50% of aggregate in your psychology papers. (bachelors)
syeda
hello
Vhikkie
who is the father of psychology
Richy Reply
aristatil
Ramadevi
and please, how would you guys, describe the study of psychology at college ?
edem
psychologist student?
Aspen
i mean not yet but am about to start college so wanna know how is it(college in general and psychology course) please
edem
Psychology is the study of mind and behaviour. So if you will take psychology as a subject so you will get to know how your everything (physical, mental, social, spiritual aspects) effects your behaviour
sakina
With this brief knowledge you can help people to cope up with their problems and only you can guide them correctly
sakina
And if you go for further specialisations you can study hypnosis, face reading, body language etc
sakina
Thanks a lot🙏🏾 And ik some of the stuffs u said but i am also going to write thesis, right ?
edem
ok no prob, thanks a lot🙏🏾✨
edem
cerebellum
Khan
hae everyone, hope you are well this evning my question is what is the difference between drive and motivation
Michael
good question
Rainee
drive is more like an impulse or urge and i think they both go together (drive and motivation) even if there is a slight difference
edem
@ Michael Drive is delivered to be innate without the use of an external stimuli, motivation normally evolves an outside stimuli which may include praise, appreciate, or reward.
Reginald
*believed...sorry for typo
Reginald
@Reginald, can't the motivation come from the inner self?
edem
Good question, please give an example.
Reginald
can we say desire of success for example
edem
Wilhelm Wundt is the father of psychology
ipau
Wilhem Wundt thank you for the road that you opened.
Qwanta
You mean who is the father of having a great educated argumentative guess? nothing is more wrong than this question. The question is you should ask yourselfs is, how sure are you abour their scientific studying? one's percieved assimilated approach to judging another person and saying they are
Roger
the biggest problem with scientific research and data is that ya you could get the same result 1000 times then it could go the other way 1000 times, but we would never know that and we did, we would still say ya but the proof is there. The only thing science proves is that humanity has
Roger
no facts about human behavior in the scientific context, but more in the trial and error.. sorry to tell you, but so far no one has proven Father of anything, thats up to you and i, judgement is bias, science is good enough lazy
Roger
cognitive development is the growing and development of the brain.
Jessy Reply
Anyone knows about Techno-fascism?
Hussein Reply
Ecofascism is a theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the "organic whole of nature". The term is also used as a rhetorical pejorative to undermine the environmental movement.
ipau
what's the big difference between prejudice and discrimination?
Danice Reply
A prejudiced person may not act on their attitude.  Therefore, someone can be prejudiced towards a certain group but not discriminate against them.  Also, prejudice includes all three components of an attitude (affective, behavioral and cognitive), whereas discrimination just involves behavior
Nancy Lee
hi
basher
hello
Rahul
what is all about cognitive development?
Kamohelo
cognitive development is the growing and development of the brain
Jessy
how do you control a variable when using spss whilst running a pearsons correlation analysis?
Jessie Reply
it dependa on your study. according to what you want to say and explain your result
Pouran
Hello
Jobe
why does it say her and she
Jayla Reply
stages of cognitive development
brivia Reply
sensory preoperatinal concrete formal
Rajendra
What's mental memory?
Namuaha
Memory is our ability to encode, store, retain and subsequently recall information and past experiences in the human brain. It can be thought of in general terms as the use of past experience to affect or influence current behaviour.
Shilan
What I mental memory?
Namuaha
What's mental memory?
Namuaha
my thankful
Namuaha
Shilan I love your definition
Jobe
what is psychology
Chethani Reply
the study of insecurities and the effect on the host .
Sera
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior & mental processes
Angela
psychology is science about learning human behaviour
Zhamshid
behaviorosm
Khan
is the study of human behaviour and mental processes
Jobe
In thinking about the case of Candace described earlier, do you think that Candace benefitted or suffered as a result of consistently being passed on to the next grade?
Nene Reply
why not we create a boon page to aid one another please because my accessibility to this lage is minimal
Jobe
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Source:  OpenStax, General biology part i - mixed majors. OpenStax CNX. May 16, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11749/1.5
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