Circuitry linking the global Csr- and σ E -dependent cell envelope stress response systems

Helen Yakhnin, Robert Aichele, Sarah E. Ades, Tony Romeo, Paul Babitzke

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20 Scopus citations


CsrA of Escherichia coli is an RNA-binding protein that globally regulates a wide variety of cellular processes and behaviors, including carbon metabolism, motility, biofilm formation, and the stringent response. CsrB and CsrC are small RNAs (sRNAs) that sequester CsrA, thereby preventing CsrA-mRNA interaction. RpoE (σ E ) is the extracytoplasmic stress response sigma factor of E. coli. Previous RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) studies identified rpoE mRNA as a CsrA target. Here, we explored the regulation of rpoE by CsrA and found that CsrA represses rpoE translation. Gel mobility shift, footprint, and toeprint studies identified three CsrA binding sites in the rpoE leader transcript, one of which overlaps the rpoE Shine-Dalgarno (SD) sequence, while another overlaps the rpoE translation initiation codon. Coupled in vitro transcription-translation experiments showed that CsrA represses rpoE translation by binding to these sites. We further demonstrate that σ E indirectly activates the transcription of csrB and csrC, leading to increased sequestration of CsrA, such that repression of rpoE by CsrA is reduced. We propose that the Csr system fine-tunes the σ E -dependent cell envelope stress response. We also identified a 51-amino-acid coding sequence whose stop codon overlaps the rpoE start codon and demonstrate that rpoE is translationally coupled with this upstream open reading frame (ORF51). The loss of coupling reduces rpoE translation by more than 50%. Identification of a translationally coupled ORF upstream of rpoE suggests that this previously unannotated protein may participate in the cell envelope stress response. In keeping with existing nomenclature, we named ORF51 rseD, resulting in an operon arrangement of rseD-rpoE-rseA-rseB-rseC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00484-17
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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