Bacteria inhabit enormously diverse niches and have a correspondingly large array of regulatory mechanisms to adapt to often inhospitable and variable environments. The stringent response (SR) allows bacteria to quickly reprogram transcription in response to changes in nutrient availability. Although the proteins controlling this response are conserved in almost all bacterial species, recent work has illuminated considerable diversity in the starvation cues and regulatory mechanisms that activate stringent signaling proteins in bacteria from different environments. In this review, we describe the signals and genetic circuitries that control the stringent signaling systems of a copiotroph, a bacteriovore, an oligotroph, and a mammalian pathogen -Escherichia coli, Myxococcus xanthus, Caulobacter crescentus, and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, respectively - and discuss how control of the SR in these species is adapted to their particular lifestyles.
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