Interplay of global regulators and cell physiology in the general stress response of Escherichia coli

Curr Opin Microbiol. 1999 Apr;2(2):148-52. doi: 10.1016/S1369-5274(99)80026-5.


Under various stress conditions, two sigma subunits of RNA polymerase, sigmaS and sigma70, coexist in Escherichia coli cells. In contrast to sigma70, sigmaS is subject to intricate regulation and coordinates an emergency reaction to stress as well as long term stress adaptation. In vivo, the two sigma factors clearly control different genes. Yet, they are structurally and functionally very similar and basically recognize the same promoter sequences. Recent data suggest that sigma factor specificity at stress-activated promoters is affected by the interplay of the two RNA polymeraseholoenzymes with additional regulatory factors, such as H-NS, Lrp, CRP, IHF or Fis, that differentially affect transcription initiation by sigmaS or sigma70 in a promoter-specific manner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Homeostasis
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Sigma Factor
  • sigma factor KatF protein, Bacteria
  • RNA polymerase sigma 70
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases