CsgD, a regulator of curli and cellulose synthesis, also regulates serine hydroxymethyltransferase synthesis in Escherichia coli K-12

Microbiology. 2003 Feb;149(Pt 2):525-535. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.25841-0.


The homologous CsgD and AgfD proteins are members of the FixJ/UhpA/LuxR family and are proposed to regulate curli (thin aggregative fibres) and cellulose production by Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, respectively. A plasmid containing part of the csgD gene was isolated during a screen for multicopy suppressors of glycine auxotrophy caused by deleting the folA gene in E. coli. The sequence of the plasmid suggests it encodes a chimaeric protein. Plasmids containing the intact csgD or agfD gene also caused suppression. Cells transformed with the recombinant plasmids contained higher serine hydroxymethyltransferase (SHMT) activity than controls. The increase could also be monitored by assaying beta-galactosidase activity from a reporter strain with part of the SHMT gene, glyA, fused to lacZ. The increase in SHMT activity was sufficient to correct the glycine auxotrophy of strains lacking folA. The recombinant plasmids also enabled K-12 strains that are not curli-proficient to make curli. Curlin, the major component of curli, contains more glycine than normal E. coli proteins. It is proposed that CsgD upregulates glyA to facilitate synthesis of curli. It is suggested that recombinant plasmids produce enough CsgD or chimaeric protein to titrate out a ligand that switches CsgD into its inactive form. As a result, sufficient active CsgD is present to activate genes in its regulon. It is concluded that CsgD increases expression of the glyA gene either directly or indirectly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cellulose / metabolism*
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase / genetics
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Plasmids
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CsgD protein, E coli
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • csgA protein, E coli
  • Crl protein, Bacteria
  • Cellulose
  • Glycine Hydroxymethyltransferase
  • Glycine