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There's no rule that says a transcription factor must be either a repressor or an activator. The lambda repressor (CI) is in fact a repressor and activator of transcription, depending on where it is bound and to what promoter you are referring to. I know your question isn't directly about lambda phage, but I think this mechanism may be best explained in the ...


I'm tempted to say, "It's complicated." CI does indeed act as both a repressor and activator. Transcription regulation in the lambda bacteriophage is quite complex for such a small system, so some confusion is understandable. Lewis et al. gives a rough description in a relatively recent paper (1): The CI protein autoregulates its synthesis. At low ...

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