Identification of conserved, RpoS-dependent stationary-phase genes of Escherichia coli.
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During entry into stationary phase, many free-living, gram-negative bacteria express genes that impart cellular resistance to environmental stresses, such as oxidative stress and osmotic stress. Many genes that are required for stationary-phase adaptation are controlled by RpoS, a conserved alternative sigma factor, whose expression is, in turn, controlled by many factors. To better understand the numbers and types of genes dependent upon RpoS, we employed a genetic screen to isolate more than 100 independent RpoS-dependent gene fusions from a bank of several thousand mutants harboring random, independent promoter-lacZ operon fusion mutations. Dependence on RpoS varied from 2-fold to over 100-fold. The expression of all fusion mutations was normal in an rpoS/rpoS+ merodiploid (rpoS background transformed with an rpoS-containing plasmid). Surprisingly, the expression of many RpoS-dependent genes was growth phase dependent, albeit at lower levels, even in an rpoS background, suggesting that other growth-phase-dependent regulatory mechanisms, in addition to RpoS, may control postexponential gene expression. These results are consistent with the idea that many growth-phase-regulated functions in Escherichia coli do not require RpoS for expression. The identities of the 10 most highly RpoS-dependent fusions identified in this study were determined by DNA sequence analysis. Three of the mutations mapped to otsA, katE, ecnB, and osmY-genes that have been previously shown by others to be highly RpoS dependent. The six remaining highly-RpoS-dependent fusion mutations were located in other genes, namely, gabP, yhiUV, o371, o381, f186, and o215.
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