Nitrate regulation of anaerobic respiratory gene expression in Escherichia coli

Mol Microbiol. 1993 Aug;9(3):425-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1993.tb01704.x.


Synthesis of most anaerobic respiratory pathways is subject to dual regulation by anaerobiosis and nitrate. Anaerobic induction is mediated by the FNR protein. Dual interacting two-component regulatory systems mediate nitrate induction and repression. The response regulator protein NARL binds DNA to control nitrate induction and repression of genes encoding nitrate respiration enzymes and alternate anaerobic respiratory enzymes, respectively. The homologous protein NARP controls nitrite induction of at least two operons. Nitrate and nitrite signalling are both mediated by the homologous sensor proteins NARX and NARQ. Recent mutational analyses have defined a heptamer sequence necessary for specific DNA binding by the NARL protein. These heptamers are located at different positions in the control regions of different operons. The NARL protein-binding sites in the narG (nitrate reductase) and narK (nitrate-nitrite antiporter) operon control regions are located approximately 200bp upstream of the transcription initiation site. The integration host factor (IHF) greatly stimulates nitrate induction of these operons, indicating that a specific DNA loop brings NARL protein, bound at the upstream region, into the proximity of the promoter for transcription activation. Other NARL protein-dependent opersons do not require IHF for nitrate induction, and the arrangement of NARL heptamer sequences in these control regions is quite different. This complexity of signal transduction pathways, coupled with the diversity of control region architecture, combine to provide many interesting areas for future investigation. An additional challenge is to determine how or if the FNR and NARL proteins interact to mediate dual positive control of transcription initiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Anion Transport Proteins*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / drug effects*
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins*
  • Nitrate Reductase
  • Nitrate Reductases / genetics
  • Nitrates / pharmacology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / genetics*


  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • FNR protein, E coli
  • Iron-Sulfur Proteins
  • Nitrates
  • nitrate transporters
  • NarL protein, E coli
  • Nitrate Reductases
  • Nitrate Reductase