Photorhabdus sp. strain K122 was found to produce higher levels of the protein CAP87K when cultured at 9 degrees C than when cultured at 28 degrees C. NH2-terminal sequencing of this protein revealed homology with the NH2 terminus of Escherichia coli polynucleotide phosphorylase. A 4.5-kb DNA fragment from strain K122 was cloned and sequenced and found to have 75% identity to the E. coli rpsO-pnp operon coding for ribosomal protein S15 and polynucleotide phosphorylase, respectively. Predicted proteins encoded by this sequence were found to have 86% identity with ribosomal protein S15 and polynucleotide phosphorylase from E. coli, and the genes were called rpsO and pnp, respectively. Quantitation of rpsO and pnp mRNA transcripts from K122 revealed that there was a 2.4-fold increase in the level of pnp mRNA and a 1.9-fold decrease in the level of rpsO mRNA at 9 degrees C relative to 28 degrees C. Primer extension analysis revealed the positions of possible promoters controlling the expression of rpsO and pnp in K122, suggesting that the genes are expressed independently. The increase in the level of pnp mRNA at 9 degrees C was not due to any relative increase in its stability compared with that of the rpsO transcript. However, there was evidence to suggest that it may be a result of a cold-inducible promoter, P2, in the intergenic region between rpsO and pnp. Several features of P2 support the suggestion that it may be cold inducible.