The Rsb Phosphoregulatory Network Controls Availability of the Primary Sigma Factor in Chlamydia Trachomatis and Influences the Kinetics of Growth and Development

PLoS Pathog. 2015 Aug 27;11(8):e1005125. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005125. eCollection 2015 Aug.


Chlamydia trachomatis is an obligate intracellular human pathogen that exhibits stage-specific gene transcription throughout a biphasic developmental cycle. The mechanisms that control modulation in transcription and associated phenotypic changes are poorly understood. This study provides evidence that a switch-protein kinase regulatory network controls availability of σ66, the main sigma subunit for transcription in Chlamydia. In vitro analysis revealed that a putative switch-protein kinase regulator, RsbW, is capable of interacting directly with σ66, as well as phosphorylating its own antagonist, RsbV1, rendering it inactive. Conversely, the putative PP2C-like phosphatase domain of chlamydial RsbU was capable of reverting RsbV1 into its active state. Recent advances in genetic manipulation of Chlamydia were employed to inactivate rsbV1, as well as to increase the expression levels of rsbW or rsbV1, in vivo. Representative σ66-dependent gene transcription was repressed in the absence of rsbV1 or upon increased expression of RsbW, and increased upon elevated expression of RsbV1. These effects on housekeeping transcription were also correlated to several measures of growth and development. A model is proposed where the relative levels of active antagonist (RsbV1) and switch-protein anti-sigma factor (RsbW) control the availability of σ66 and subsequently act as a molecular 'throttle' for Chlamydia growth and development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / genetics
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / physiology*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Sigma Factor / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • RsbV protein, Bacteria
  • RsbW protein, bacteria
  • Sigma Factor
  • Adenosine Triphosphate

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1309627
  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1320906
  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1320908
  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1466906
  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1466907
  • figshare/10.6084/M9.FIGSHARE.1473082