Novel Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Anti-Sigma Factor Antagonists Control sigmaF Activity by Distinct Mechanisms

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Sep;45(6):1527-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.03135.x.


The aetiological agent of tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, encodes 13 sigma factors, as well as several putative anti-, and anti-anti- sigma factors. Here we show that a sigma factor that has been previously shown to be involved in virulence and persistence processes, sigmaF, can be specifically inhibited by the anti-sigma factor UsfX. Importantly, the inhibitory activity of UsfX, in turn, can be negatively regulated by two novel anti-anti-sigma factors. The first anti-anti-sigma factor seems to be regulated by redox potential, and the second may be regulated by phosphorylation as it is rendered non-functional by the introduction of a mutation that is believed to mimic phosphorylation of the anti-anti-sigma factor. These results suggest that sigmaF activity might be post-translationally modulated by at least two distinct pathways in response to different possible physiological cues, the outcome being consistent with the bacteria's ability to adapt to diverse host environments during disease progression, latency and reactivation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphorylation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Sigma Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • FliA protein, Bacteria
  • Sigma Factor