Multitier regulation of the E. coli extreme acid stress response by CsrA

Mark G. Gorelik, Helen Yakhnin, Archana Pannuri, Alyssa C. Walker, Christine Pourciau, Daniel Czyz, Tony Romeo, Paul Babitzke

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2 Scopus citations


CsrA is an RNA-binding protein that regulates processes critical for growth and survival, including central carbon metabolism, motility, biofilmformation, stress responses, and expression of virulence factors in pathogens. Transcriptomics studies in Escherichia coli suggested that CsrA repressed genes involved in surviving extremely acidic conditions. Here, we examine the effectsof disrupting CsrA-dependent regulation on the expression of genes and circuitry for acid stress survival and demonstrate CsrA-mediated repression at multiple levels. We show that this repression is critical for managing the trade-offbetween growth and survival; overexpression of acid stress genes caused by csrA disruption enhances survival under extreme acidity but is detrimental for growth under mildly acidic conditions. In vitro studies confirmedthat CsrA binds specificallyto mRNAs of structural and regulatory genes for acid stress survival, causing translational repression. We also found that translation of the top-tier acid stress regulator, evgA, is coupled to that of a small leader peptide, evgL, which is repressed by CsrA. Unlike dedicated acid stress response genes, csrA and its sRNA antagonists, csrB and csrC, did not exhibit a substantial response to acid shock. Furthermore, disruption of CsrA regulation of acid stress genes impacted host-microbe interactions in Caenorhabditis elegans, alleviating GABA deficiencies.This study expands the known regulon of CsrA to genes of the extreme acid stress response of E. coli and highlights a new facet of the global role played by CsrA in balancing the opposing physiological demands of stress resistance with the capacity for growth and modulating host interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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