Molecular analysis of the dormancy response in Mycobacterium smegmatis: expression analysis of genes encoding the DevR-DevS two-component system, Rv3134c and chaperone alpha-crystallin homologues

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2002 Jun 4;211(2):231-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6968.2002.tb11230.x.


Mycobacteria adapt to a decrease in oxygen tension by entry into a non-replicative persistent phase. It was shown earlier that the two-component system, DevR-DevS, was induced in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis BCG cultures during hypoxia, suggesting that it may play a regulatory role in their adaptation to oxygen limitation. The presence of a homologous genetic system in Mycobacterium smegmatis was predicted by scanning its unfinished genome sequence with devR and devS genes of M. tuberculosis. Rv3134c, which is cotranscribed with devR-devS in M. tuberculosis, was also present in M. smegmatis at a similar location upstream from devR. The expression of all three genes was induced at the RNA and protein levels in M. smegmatis cultures grown under microaerobic and anaerobic conditions. The M. smegmatis genome also contained the hspX gene, encoding chaperone alpha-crystallin, Acr, that was induced during hypoxia. The similarity in sequences and hypoxia-responsive behaviour of devR-devS, Rv3134c and hspX genes in M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis suggests that the molecular mechanisms involved in the dormancy response are likely conserved in these two species. M. smegmatis could therefore serve as a useful model for the delineation of the hypoxia response in general and DevR-DevS regulated pathways in particular.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antigens, Bacterial*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / growth & development*
  • Mycobacterium smegmatis / metabolism
  • Oxygen
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Two-Hybrid System Techniques


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DevR protein, Nostoc
  • HspX protein, Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Transcription Factors
  • Oxygen