The control of rRNA synthesis in the etiological agent of epidemic typhus, Rickettsia prowazekii, a slowly growing obligate intracytoplasmic bacterium, was investigated. Transcription of the rickettsial 16S rRNA gene (rrs), of which there is only a single copy, was controlled by a single promoter region, and the site for the initiation of transcription (base A) was found 117 bp upstream of the rrs coding region for the mature product. The promoter region contained an Escherichia coli promoter-like sequence, TTGACA-N17- TATAAC, centered 139 bp upstream of the coding region for the mature product. To investigate whether transcription of the rickettsial rrs responds to amino acid starvation conditions, total RNA was isolated from R. prowazekii- infected mouse L929 cells with or without methionine starvation. The level of newly synthesized 16S rRNA precursors in R. prowazekii, as analyzed by ribonuclease protection assays, decreased significantly after methionine starvation for 6 h and then recovered within 12 h after the addition of methionine. The chemical half-lives of the 16S rRNA precursors in the methionine-starved rickettsiae did not differ significantly from those in the normal rickettsiae. These results suggest that R. prowazekii regulates transcription of the rrs in response to amino acid starvation conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology