, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 3-16
Date: 13 Nov 2006

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

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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.

Received 27 June 2006; received after revision 1 August 2006; accepted 28 September 2006