Comparative and functional analysis of the rRNA-operons and their tRNA gene complement in different lactic acid bacteria

M.C. de Vries, R.J. Siezen, J.G.E. Wijman, Y. Zhao, M. Kleerebezem, W.M. de Vos, E.E. Vaughan

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The complete genome sequences of the lactic acid bacteria (LAB), Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactococcus lactis, and Lactobacillus johnsonii were used to compare location, sequence, organisation, and regulation of the ribosomal RNA (rrn) operons. All rrn operons of the examined LAB diverge from the origin of replication, which is compatible with their efficient expression. All operons show a common organisation of 5¿-16S-23S-5S-3¿ structure, but differ in the number, location and specificity of the tRNA genes. In the 16S-23S intergenic spacer region, two of the five rrn operons of Lb. plantarum and three of the six of Lb. johnsonii contain tRNA-ala and tRNA-ile genes, while L. lactis has a tRNA-ala gene in all six operons. The number of tRNA genes following the 5S rRNA gene ranges up to 14, 16, and 21 for L. lactis, Lb. johnsonii and Lb. plantarum, respectively. The tRNA gene complements are similar to each other and to those of other bacteria. Micro-heterogeneity was found within the rRNA structural genes and spacer regions of each strain. In the rrn operon promoter regions of Lb. plantarum and L. lactis marked differences were found, while the promoter regions of Lb. johnsonii showed a similar tandem promoter structure in all operons. The rrn promoters of L. lactis show either a single or a tandem promoter structure. All promoters of Lb. plantarum contain two or three -10 and -35 regions, of which either zero to two were followed by an UP-element. The Lb. plantarum rrnA, rrnB, and rrnC promoter regions display similarity to the rrn promoter structure of Esherichia coli. Differences in regulation between the five Lb. plantarum promoters were studied using a low copy promoter-probe plasmid. Taking copy number and growth rate into account, a differential expression over time was shown. Although all five Lb. plantarum rrn promoters are significantly different, this study shows that their activity was very similar under the circumstances tested. An active promoter was also identified within the Lb. plantarum rrnC operon preceding a cluster of 17 tRNA genes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)358-367
JournalSystematic and Applied Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • complete genome sequence
  • escherichia-coli
  • lactobacillus-plantarum
  • bacillus-subtilis
  • lactococcus-lactis
  • identification
  • heterogeneity
  • promoters
  • hybridization
  • organization


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