Background: H-NS regulates the acid stress resistance. The present study aimed to characterize the H-NS-dependent cascade governing the acid stress resistance pathways and to define the interplay between the different regulators.
Results: We combined mutational, phenotypic and gene expression analyses, to unravel the regulatory hierarchy in acid resistance involving H-NS, RcsB-P/GadE complex, HdfR, CadC, AdiY regulators, and DNA-binding assays to separate direct effects from indirect ones. RcsB-P/GadE regulatory complex, the general direct regulator of glutamate-, arginine- and lysine-dependent acid resistance pathways plays a central role in the regulatory cascade. However, H-NS also directly controls specific regulators of these pathways (e.g. cadC) and genes involved in general stress resistance (hdeAB, hdeD, dps, adiY). Finally, we found that in addition to H-NS and RcsB, a third regulator, HdfR, inversely controls glutamate-dependent acid resistance pathway and motility.
Conclusions: H-NS lies near the top of the hierarchy orchestrating acid response centred on RcsB-P/GadE regulatory complex, the general direct regulator of glutamate-, arginine- and lysine-dependent acid resistance pathways.