Sulfolobus solfataricus and Sulfolobus islandicus contain several genes exhibiting D-arabinose-inducible expression and these systems are ideal for studying mechanisms of archaeal gene expression. At sequence level, only two highly conserved cis elements are present on the promoters: a regulatory element named ara box directing arabinose-inducible expression and the basal promoter element TATA, serving as the binding site for the TATA-binding protein. Strikingly, these promoters possess a modular structure that allows an essentially inactive basal promoter to be strongly activated. The invoked mechanisms include TFB (transcription factor B) recruitment by the ara-box-binding factor to activate gene expression and modulation of TFB recruitment efficiency to yield differential gene expression.

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