Understanding mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis is critical for infectious disease control and treatment. Infection is a sophisticated process that requires the participation of global regulators to coordinate expression of not only genes coding for virulence factors but also those involved in other physiological processes, such as stress response and metabolic flux, to adapt to host environments. RpoS is a key response regulator to stress conditions in
E scherichia coliand many other proteobacteria. In contrast to its conserved well-understood role in stress response, effects of RpoS on pathogenesis are highly variable and dependent on species. RpoS contributes to virulence through either enhancing survival against host defense systems or directly regulating expression of virulence factors in some pathogens, while RpoS is dispensable, or even inhibitory, to virulence in others. In this review, we focus on the distinct and niche-dependent role of RpoS in virulence by surveying recent findings in many pathogens.