Characterization and expression analysis of the groESL operon of Bartonella bacilliformis

Julie A. Callison, James M. Battisti, Kate N. Sappington, Laura S. Smitherman, Michael F. Minnick

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5 Scopus citations


The groESL operon of Bartonella bacilliformis, a facultative intracellular, Gram-negative bacterium and etiologic agent of Oroya Fever, was characterized. Sequence analysis revealed an operon containing two genes of 294 (groES) and 1632 nucleotides (groEL) separated by a 55-nt intergenic spacer. The operon is preceded by a 72-nt ORF (ORF1) that encodes a hypothetical protein with homology to a portion of the HrcA repressor for groESL. A divergent fumarate hydratase C (fumC) gene lies further upstream. Deduced amino acid sequences for B. bacilliformis GroEL and GroES revealed a high degree of identity with homologues from other Bartonella and α-Protebacteria. A single transcriptional start site (TSS) was mapped 79 nucleotides upstream of the groES start codon, regardless of incubation temperature. The TSS was located immediately 5′ to a potential controlling inverted repeat of chaperonin expression (CIRCE) element and is preceded by a σ70-like promoter. The operon is followed by a predicted rho-independent transcriptional terminator. Northern blot analysis indicated that groES and groEL are co-transcribed as a single mRNA of ∼2.4 kb. A 6-h time course analysis by qRT-PCR showed that groEL expression increases 1.3-fold within 30 min of a temperature upshift from 30 to 37°C, with maximum transcription reached after 60 min (∼4.3-fold), followed by a steady decrease to background (30°C) transcription levels by 6 h. Western blot analysis revealed a 1.4- and 1.5-fold increase in GroEL synthesis following a temperature upshift or by inhibiting DNA supercoiling with coumermycin A1, respectively. Functional expression and complementation of temperature-sensitive Escherichia coli groES or groEL mutants with the cloned operon allowed them to grow at otherwise restrictive temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 10 2005


  • Bartonella
  • Chaperonin
  • GroEL
  • GroES
  • GroESL operon
  • Heat shock protein


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