The nucleotide sequence of the 20,535 base pairs of the 5' end of the srfA operon, containing the region required for competence development, was determined. This included the srfA promoter region, the first open reading frame, srfAA, encoding surfactin synthetase I and part of the second open reading frame, srfAB, encoding surfactin synthetase II. Three amino acid-activating domains characteristic of those found in peptide synthetases could be discerned In both srfAA (activating Glu, Leu and D-Leu) and srfAB (activating Val, Asp, and D-Leu). The presence of a conserved spacer motif in the amino-terminal end of srfAA suggests that the srfAA product may not initiate surfactin synthesis. The portion of srfA that contains the region required for competence is composed of srfAA and the first amino acid-acltivating domain of srfAB.
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