We have characterized a new Escherichia coli operon consisting of two genes, ecpD and htrE. The ecpD gene encodes a 27-kDa protein which is 40% identical at the amino acid level to the pilin chaperone PapD family of proteins. Immediately downstream of the ecpD gene is the htrE gene. The htrE gene encodes a polypeptide of 95 kDa which is processed to a 92-kDa mature species. The HtrE protein is 38% identical to the type II pilin porin protein PapC. The ecpD htrE operon is located at 3.3 min on the genetic map, corresponding to the region from kbp 153 to 157 of the E. coli physical map. The htrE gene was identified on the basis of a Tn5 insertion mutation which resulted in a temperature-sensitive growth phenotype above 43.5 degrees C. The transcription of this operon is induced with a temperature shift from 22 to 37 or 42 degrees C but not to higher temperatures, e.g., 50 degrees C. Consistent with this result, the temperature-induced transcription was shown to be independent of the rpoH gene product (sigma 32). The transcription of this operon was further shown to require functional integration host factor protein, since himA or himD mutant bacteria possessed lower levels of ecpD htrE transcripts. Among the three transcriptional start sites discovered, one, defined by the P2 promoter, was found to be under the positive regulation of the katF (rpoS) gene, which encodes a putative sigma factor required for the transcription of many growth phase-regulated genes.