Antagonistic regulation of dgkA and plsB genes of phospholipid synthesis by multiple stress responses in Escherichia coli

Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jun;80(5):1260-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07641.x. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


Phospholipid homeostasis of the bacterial membrane is maintained by biochemical regulation of the synthesis enzymes depending on the environment. However, genes encoding phospholipid synthesis enzymes might also be regulated during stress responses, in order for the bacteria to adapt their growth to changing environments. While few studies have addressed this question, global analyses show that specific genes are activated by alternative Sigma factors, and that phospholipid synthesis genes are co-ordinately regulated during stringent response. In Escherichia coli, the genes coding for glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase and diacylglycerol kinase (plsB and dgkA) are found next to each other in divergent orientations, suggesting a co-ordinated regulation. We investigated their regulation and found that these two genes are inversely regulated by a diversity of stress responses. plsB activation by σE is concomitant with a reduced DgkA amount. A second proximal promoter for plsB expression is responsible for basal plsB expression and is inhibited during stringent response. Finally, dgkA is activated by the two-component regulator BasR, linking dgkA function of phospholipid recycling to LPS modifications. In E. coli, PlsB and DgkA are key enzymes in the phospholipid synthesis pathway. Our results show that their expression is a crucial point of integration for different stress signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetyltransferases / genetics*
  • Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate O-Acyltransferase / genetics*
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate O-Acyltransferase / metabolism
  • Phospholipids / biosynthesis*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Phospholipids
  • Sigma Factor
  • sporulation-specific sigma factors
  • Acetyltransferases
  • PlsB protein, E coli
  • Glycerol-3-Phosphate O-Acyltransferase