The distribution of RNA polymerase in Escherichia coli is dynamic and sensitive to environmental cues

Mol Microbiol. 2003 Dec;50(5):1493-505. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2003.03805.x.


Despite extensive genetic, biochemical and structural studies on Escherichia coli RNA polymerase (RNAP), little is known about its location and distribution in response to environmental changes. To visualize the RNAP by fluorescence microscopy in E. coli under different physiological conditions, we constructed a functional rpoC-gfp gene fusion on the chromosome. We show that, although RNAP is located in the nucleoid and at its periphery, the distribution of RNAP is dynamic and dramatically influenced by cell growth conditions, nutrient starvation and overall transcription activity inside the cell. Moreover, mutational analysis suggests that the stable RNA synthesis plays an important role in nucleoid condensation.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Culture Media
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Response*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism


  • Culture Media
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • beta' subunit of RNA polymerase
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases