New Insights Into Transcriptional Regulation by H-NS

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2008 Apr;11(2):113-20. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2008.02.011. Epub 2008 Apr 2.


H-NS, a nucleoid-associated DNA-binding protein of enteric bacteria, was discovered 35 years ago and subsequently found to exert widespread and highly pleiotropic effects on gene regulation. H-NS binds to high-affinity sites and spreads along adjacent AT-rich DNA to silence transcription. Preferential binding to sequences with higher AT-content than the resident genome allows H-NS to repress the expression of foreign DNA in a process known as 'xenogeneic silencing.' Counter-silencing by a variety of mechanisms facilitates the evolutionary acquisition of horizontally transferred genes and their integration into pre-existing regulatory networks. This review will highlight recent insights into the mechanism and biological importance of H-NS-DNA interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • H-NS protein, bacteria