An operon is a length of DNA, made up of structural genes and control sites. The structural genes code for proteins. The control sites are the operator and promoter region, which are both genes.
- E. coli normally respires glucose but can also use lactose as a respiratory substrate.
- At first, E.coli can't metabolise the lactose as it only has small amounts of the enzymes beta-galactosidase (which catalyses the hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose) and lactose permease (which transports lactose into the cell).
- A few minutes after lactose is introduced into the medium surrounding the E.coli, the bacteria increases it's rate of synthesis of these two enzymes.
- Lactose triggers the production of the enzymes, and is called an inducer.
The lac operon
- The regulator gene (I): This is not part of the operon and is some distance away from it. It is important as it produces the repressor protein.
- The control sites (P and O): P is the promoter region. It's a length of DNA to which the enzyme RNA polymerase binds to in order to begin the transcription of the structural genes.
- The structural genes (Z and Y): Z codes for beta galactosidase.…