Review

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 3-16

First online:

The lactose repressor system: paradigms for regulation, allosteric behavior and protein folding

  • C. J. WilsonAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice UniversityKeck Center for Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training, Rice UniversityDivision of Biology, California Institute of Technology
  • , H. ZhanAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice UniversityDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, MS 3030, The University of Kansas Medical Center
  • , L. Swint-KruseAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, MS 3030, The University of Kansas Medical Center
  • , K. S. MatthewsAffiliated withDepartment of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice UniversityKeck Center for Interdisciplinary Bioscience Training, Rice University Email author 

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Abstract.

In 1961, Jacob and Monod proposed the operon model for gene regulation based on metabolism of lactose in Escherichia coli [1]. This proposal was followed by an explication of allosteric behavior by Monod and colleagues [2]. The operon model rationally depicted how genetic mechanisms can control metabolic events in response to environmental stimuli via coordinated transcription of a set of genes with related function (e.g. metabolism of lactose). The allosteric response found in the lactose repressor and many other proteins has been extended to a variety of cellular signaling pathways in all organisms. These two models have shaped our view of modern molecular biology and captivated the attention of a surprisingly broad range of scientists. More recently, the lactose repressor monomer was used as a model system for experimental and theoretical explorations of protein folding mechanisms. Thus, the lac system continues to advance our molecular understanding of genetic control and the relationship between sequence, structure and function.

Keywords.

Lactose repressor allostery genetic regulation transcription regulation inducer operator