Attenuation in the Escherichia coli tryptophan operon: role of RNA secondary structure involving the tryptophan codon region.
The secondary structure of the terminated trp leader transcript from Escherichia coli was analyzed by RNase T1 partial digestion. Base-paired regions were recovered by nondenaturing gel electrophoresis and identified by denaturing gel electrophoresis and fingerprinting. The tandem tryptophan codons in the leader peptide coding region were found to be base paired with a more distal region of the transcript. This and other secondary structures that the trp leader RNA can form help explain the physiological response of the operon as well as the behavior of regulatory mutants.