Osmoregulation of the maltose regulon in Escherichia coli.
The maltose regulon consists of four operons that direct the synthesis of proteins required for the transport and metabolism of maltose and maltodextrins. Expression of the mal genes is induced by maltose and maltodextrins and is dependent on a specific positive regulator, the MalT protein, as well as on the cyclic AMP-catabolite gene activator protein complex. In the absence of an exogenous inducer, expression of the mal regulon was greatly reduced when the osmolarity of the growth medium was high; maltose-induced expression was not affected, and malTc-dependent expression was only weakly affected. Mutants lacking MalK, a cytoplasmic membrane protein required for maltose transport, expressed the remaining mal genes at a high level, presumably because an internal inducer of the mal system accumulated; this expression was also strongly repressed at high osmolarity. The repression of mal regulon expression at high osmolarity was not caused by reduced expression of the malT, envZ, or crp gene or by changes in cellular cyclic AMP levels. In strains carrying mutations in genes encoding amylomaltase (malQ), maltodextrin phosphorylase (malP), amylase (malS), or glycogen (glg), malK mutations still led to elevated expression at low osmolarity. The repression at high osmolarity no longer occurred in malQ mutants, however, provided that glycogen was present.
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