Quantitative control of the stationary phase-specific sigma factor, sigma S, in Escherichia coli: involvement of the nucleoid protein H-NS

EMBO J. 1995 Feb 1;14(3):594-602.


In Escherichia coli, recent intensive studies revealed that expression of a certain subset of genes is under the control of the stationary phase-specific sigma factor, sigma S, which is encoded by the rpoS gene. Since sigma S functions predominantly under certain growth conditions, its activity and/or cellular content has accordingly to be tightly controlled, however, the underlying molecular mechanism is at present unclear. We previously demonstrated that expression of the cbpA gene, encoding an analogue of the DnaJ molecular chaperone, is largely dependent on sigma S function. Here we have found that a mutational lesion of the hns gene, which encodes one of the well-characterized nucleoid proteins, H-NS, affects the cellular content of sigma S remarkably and consequently affects the expression of cbpA. Enhanced accumulation of sigma S in hns deletion cells was particularly observed in the logarithmic growth phase and was demonstrated to result from an elevated translational efficiency of rpoS mRNA and also from an increased stability of newly synthesized sigma S. Although H-NS is known to influence the transcription of a number of apparently unlinked genes on the chromosome, in this study we provide a novel instance in which H-NS is deeply implicated in post-transcriptional regulation(s) of the expression of rpoS. As to physiological relevance, it was also demonstrated that hns deletion cells exhibit an extreme thermotolerance even in the logarithmic growth phase, presumably because of the enhanced accumulation of sigma S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Half-Life
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Hot Temperature
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Sigma Factor / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • CbpA protein, E coli
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • H-NS protein, bacteria
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Sigma Factor
  • sigma factor KatF protein, Bacteria