The transcription of the 14 genes of the gas-vesicle-encoding mc-vac region was investigated, using RNA from 25% and 15% (w/v) salt cultures of the moderately halophilic archaeon Transcription occurred only from two promoters, located in front of the mc- and mc- genes. In both cultures transcripts spanning the entire mc- transcription unit were formed only during the exponential growth phase. Amounts of these transcripts were larger in the 25% salt culture, in which the 2.0 kb mc- mRNA and large amounts of 1.3 kb and 0.45 kb partial mc- transcripts were also synthesized during the stationary phase. The levels of the mc- transcripts and of the 324 nt mc- mRNA increased in parallel during the stationary phase of the 25% salt culture. Only under these conditions were mRNAs spanning the entire mc- transcription unit observed, and gas-vesicles were formed. Investigation of the influence of the mc- genes on both mc-vac promoters in transformants revealed that by themselves they were nearly inactive. The addition of mc- however, resulted in a high level of constitutively produced mc- and mc- mRNA, indicating a transcriptional activator function for the mc- product.


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