(p)ppGpp: still magical?

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2008;62:35-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.62.081307.162903.


The fundamental details of how nutritional stress leads to elevating (p)ppGpp are questionable. By common usage, the meaning of the stringent response has evolved from the specific response to (p)ppGpp provoked by amino acid starvation to all responses caused by elevating (p)ppGpp by any means. Different responses have similar as well as dissimilar positive and negative effects on gene expression and metabolism. The different ways that different bacteria seem to exploit their capacities to form and respond to (p)ppGpp are already impressive despite an early stage of discovery. Apparently, (p)ppGpp can contribute to regulation of many aspects of microbial cell biology that are sensitive to changing nutrient availability: growth, adaptation, secondary metabolism, survival, persistence, cell division, motility, biofilms, development, competence, and virulence. Many basic questions still exist. This review tries to focus on some issues that linger even for the most widely characterized bacterial strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacteriophages / physiology
  • DNA Replication
  • Guanosine Pentaphosphate / metabolism*
  • Guanosine Tetraphosphate / metabolism*
  • Ligases / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Pyrophosphatases / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Guanosine Tetraphosphate
  • Guanosine Pentaphosphate
  • Pyrophosphatases
  • Ligases