The locus of heat resistance (LHR) confers resistance to extreme heat, chlorine and oxidative stress in Escherichia coli. This study aimed to determine the function of the LHR in maintaining bacterial cell envelope homeostasis, the regulation of the genes comprising the LHR and the contribution of the LHR to alkaline pH response. The presence of the LHR did not affect the activity of the Cpx two-component regulatory system in E. coli, which was measured to quantify cell envelope stress. The LHR did not alter E. coli MG1655 growth rate in the range of pH 6.9 to 9.2. However, RT-qPCR results indicated that the expression of the LHR was elevated at pH 8.0 when CpxR was absent. The LHR did not improve survival of E. coli MG1655 at extreme alkaline pH (pH = 11.0 to 11.2) but improved survival at pH 11.0 in the presence of chlorine. Therefore, we conclude that the LHR confers resistance to extreme alkaline pH in the presence of oxidizing agents. Resistance to alkaline pH is regulated by an endogenous mechanism, including the Cpx envelope stress response, whereas the LHR confers resistance to extreme alkaline pH only in the presence of additional stress such as chlorine.
Keywords: Cpx two-component regulatory system; Escherichia coli; alkaline pH response; locus of heat resistance.