We have characterized a major processed species of mRNA in the his operon of Salmonella typhimurium. In vivo and in vitro analyses of the his transcripts from wild-type and mutant strains using S1 nuclease protection assays, measurements of RNA stability, deletion mapping, gel retardation, and in vitro translation assays demonstrate that the distal portion of the polycistronic his mRNA is processed, resulting in increased stability. The processing event requires an upstream cis-acting element and translation of the cistron immediately downstream of the 5′ end of the processed species. The cistrons contained in this segment are also independently transcribed from an internal promoter which is maximally active in the absence of readthrough transcription from the primary promoter.
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