Nucleoid-associated protein H-NS represses transcription by forming extended DNA-H-NS complexes. Repression by H-NS operates mostly at the level of transcription initiation. Less is known about how DNA-H-NS complexes interfere with transcription elongation. In vitro H-NS has been shown to enhance RNA polymerase pausing and to promote Rho-dependent termination, while in vivo inhibition of Rho resulted in a decrease of the genome occupancy by H-NS. Here we show that transcription directed across H-NS binding regions relieves H-NS (and H-NS/StpA) mediated repression of promoters in these regions. Further, we observed a correlation of transcription across the H-NS-bound region and de-repression. The data suggest that the transcribing RNA polymerase is able to remodel the H-NS complex and/or dislodge H-NS from the DNA and thus relieve repression. Such an interference of transcription and H-NS mediated repression may imply that poorly transcribed AT-rich loci are prone to be repressed by H-NS, while efficiently transcribed loci escape repression.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.