The structural gene for arylsulfatase (atsA) of Klebsiella aerogenes was cloned into a pKI212 vector in Escherichia coli. Deletion analysis showed that the atsA gene with the promoter region was located within a 3.2-kilobase cloned segment. In E. coli cells which carried the plasmid, the synthesis of arylsulfatase was repressed by various sources of sulfur; the repression was relieved, in each case, by tyramine. Transfer of the plasmid into atsA or constitutive atsR mutant strains of K. aerogenes resulted in complementation of atsA but not of atsR. The nucleotide sequence of the 3.2-kilobase fragment was determined. Two open reading frames, the atsA gene and an unknown gene (atsB), were found. These are located between a potential promoter and a transcriptional terminator sequence. Deletion analysis suggests that atsB is a potential positive factor for the regulation of arylsulfatase. Analysis of the amino acid sequences of the first 13 amino acids from the N terminus of the purified secreted arylsulfatase agrees with that of the nucleotide sequence of atsA. The leader peptide extends over 20 amino acids and has the characteristics of a signal sequence. Primer extension mapping of transcripts generated in vivo suggests that the synthesis of mRNA starts at a site 31 or 32 bases upstream from the ATG initiation codon of the atsB gene. By Northern (RNA) blot analysis of the transcripts induced by tyramine, we found a 2.7-kilobase transcript which is identical in size to the total sequence of the atsB and atsA genes. Thus, the ats operon is composed of two cistrons and is regulated by sulfur and tyramine.
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