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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Synthesis of the stationary-phase sigma factor sigma s is positively regulated by ppGpp.

Strains of Escherichia coli which lack detectable guanosine 3',5'-bispyrophosphate (ppGpp) display a pleiotropic phenotype that in some respects resembles that of rpoS (katF) mutants. This led us to examine whether ppGpp is a positive regulator of sigma s synthesis. sigma s is a stationary-phase-specific sigma factor that is encoded by the rpoS gene. We found that a ppGpp-deficient strain is defective in sigma s synthesis as cells enter stationary phase in a rich medium, as judged by immunoblots. Under more-defined conditions we found that the stimulation of sigma s synthesis following glucose, phosphate, or amino acid starvation of wild-type strains is greatly reduced in a strain lacking ppGpp. The failure of ppGpp-deficient strains to synthesize sigma s in response to these starvation regimens could indicate a general defect in gene expression rather than a specific dependence of rpoS expression on ppGpp. We therefore tested the effect of artificially elevated ppGpp levels on sigma s synthesis either with mutations that impair ppGpp decay or by gratuitously inducing ppGpp synthesis with a Ptac::relA fusion. In both instances, we observed enhanced sigma s synthesis. Apparently, ppGpp can activate sigma s synthesis under conditions of nutrient sufficiency as well as during entry into stationary phase. This finding suggests that changes in ppGpp levels function both as a signal of imminent stationary phase and as a signal of perturbations in steady-state growth.[1]


  1. Synthesis of the stationary-phase sigma factor sigma s is positively regulated by ppGpp. Gentry, D.R., Hernandez, V.J., Nguyen, L.H., Jensen, D.B., Cashel, M. J. Bacteriol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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