Regulation of ytfK by cAMP-CRP Contributes to SpoT-Dependent Accumulation of (p)ppGpp in Response to Carbon Starvation YtfK Responds to Glucose Exhaustion

Front Microbiol. 2021 Nov 4;12:775164. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.775164. eCollection 2021.


Guanosine penta- or tetraphosphate (known as (p)ppGpp) serves as second messenger to respond to nutrient downshift and other environmental stresses, a phenomenon called stringent response. Accumulation of (p)ppGpp promotes the coordinated inhibition of macromolecule synthesis, as well as the activation of stress response pathways to cope and adapt to harmful conditions. In Escherichia coli, the (p)ppGpp level is tightly regulated by two enzymes, the (p)ppGpp synthetase RelA and the bifunctional synthetase/hydrolase SpoT. We recently identified the small protein YtfK as a key regulator of SpoT-mediated activation of stringent response in E. coli. Here, we further characterized the regulation of ytfK. We observed that ytfK is subjected to catabolite repression and is positively regulated by the cyclic AMP (cAMP)-cAMP receptor protein (CRP) complex. Importantly, YtfK contributes to SpoT-dependent accumulation of (p)ppGpp and cell survival in response to glucose starvation. Therefore, regulation of ytfK by the cAMP-CRP appears important to adjust (p)ppGpp level and coordinate cellular metabolism in response to glucose availability.

Keywords: (p)ppGpp; CRP; E. coli; cAMP; glucose starvation; stringent response; ytfK.