Nitric oxide (NO) is a toxic, free radical gas with diverse biological roles in eukaryotes and bacteria, being involved in signalling, vasodilation, blood clotting and immunity and as an intermediate in microbial denitrification. Several bacterial transcriptional regulators sense this molecule and regulate the expression of genes involved in both NO detoxification and NO damage repair. However, a recently discovered NO sensing repressor, named NsrR, has gained attention because of its suggested role as a global regulator of the bacterial NO stress response. Recent advances in biochemical and transcriptomic studies of NsrR make it timely to review the current evidence for NsrR as a global regulator and to speculate on the recent controversy over its NO sensing mechanism.
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