Expression of Serratia marcescens extracellular proteins requires recA.
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A previously described regulatory mutation which abolishes expression of the extracellular nuclease of Serratia marcescens is shown to be a mutation of the Serratia recA gene. The defect in nuclease expression could be restored by introducing a plasmid carrying the recA gene of Escherichia coli. The DNA sequence of the Serratia gene is very similar to that of the E. coli gene. The putative LexA-binding site of the Serratia recA gene is almost identical to that of E. coli, along with the promoter. A similar LexA-binding site can also be found upstream of the nuclease gene. As expected from this finding, we show that nuclease expression can be induced by SOS-inducing agents such as mitomycin C. Although inducible in S. marcescens, the nuclease was expressed only at the uninduced levels in E. coli and could not be induced by mitomycin C. The extracellular chitinase and lipase were similarly affected by the mutations altering nuclease expression and were also induced by mitomycin C.