The Alternative Sigma Factor sigmaE Controls Antioxidant Defences Required for Salmonella Virulence and Stationary-Phase Survival

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Feb;43(3):771-82. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.02787.x.


Bacteria must contend with conditions of nutrient limitation in all natural environments. Complex programmes of gene expression, controlled in part by the alternative sigma factors sigmaS (sigma38, RpoS) and sigmaH (sigma32, RpoH), allow a number of bacterial species to survive conditions of partial or complete starvation. We show here that the alternative sigma factor sigmaE (sigma24, RpoE) also facilitates the survival of Salmonella typhimurium under conditions of nutrient deprivation. Expression of the sigmaE regulon is strongly induced upon entry of Salmonella into stationary phase. A Salmonella mutant lacking sigmaE has reduced survival during stationary phase as well as increased susceptibility to oxidative stress. A Salmonella strain lacking both sigmaE and sigmaS is non-viable after just 24 h in stationary phase, but survival of these mutants is completely preserved under anaerobic stationary-phase conditions, suggesting that oxidative injury is one of the major mechanisms of reduced microbial viability during periods of nutrient deprivation. Moreover, the attenuated virulence of sigmaE-deficient Salmonella for mice can be largely restored by genetic abrogation of the host phagocyte respiratory burst, suggesting that the sigmaE regulon plays an important antioxidant role during Salmonella infection of mammalian hosts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Survival
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Regulon
  • Respiratory Burst
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / microbiology
  • Salmonella typhimurium / pathogenicity*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / physiology*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism*


  • Antioxidants
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Sigma Factor
  • sigma factor KatF protein, Bacteria