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Logo of bmcmicrBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Microbiology
BMC Microbiol. 2012; 12: 32.
Published online Mar 12, 2012. doi:  10.1186/1471-2180-12-32
PMCID: PMC3364868
Alternative sigma factor σH activates competence gene expression in Lactobacillus sakei
Solveig Schmid,1,2,4 Claudia Bevilacqua,3 and Anne-Marie Crutz-Le Coqcorresponding author1
1UMR1319 Micalis, INRA F-78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France
2UMR Micalis, AgroParisTech, INRA F-78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France
3UMR1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, plateforme ICE, INRA F-78350, Jouy-en-Josas, France
4Conceptus SAS, 50 avenue de Saint Cloud, F-78000 Versailles, France
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Solveig Schmid: solveig.schmid/at/; Claudia Bevilacqua: claudia.bevilacqua/at/; Anne-Marie Crutz-Le Coq: Anne-Marie.LeCoq/at/
Received June 8, 2011; Accepted March 12, 2012.
Alternative sigma factors trigger various adaptive responses. Lactobacillus sakei, a non-sporulating meat-borne bacterium, carries an alternative sigma factor seemingly orthologous to σH of Bacillus subtilis, best known for its contribution to the initiation of a large starvation response ultimately leading to sporulation. As the role of σH-like factors has been little studied in non-sporulating bacteria, we investigated the function of σH in L. sakei.
Transcription of sigH coding for σH was hardly affected by entry into stationary phase in our laboratory conditions. Twenty-five genes potentially regulated by σH in L. sakei 23 K were revealed by genome-wide transcriptomic profiling of sigH overexpression and/or quantitative PCR analysis. More than half of them are involved in the synthesis of a DNA uptake machinery linked to genetic competence, and in DNA metabolism; however, σH overproduction did not allow detectable genetic transformation. σH was found to be conserved in the L. sakei species.
Our results are indicative of the existence of a genetic competence state activated by σH in L. sakei, and sustain the hypothesis that σH-like factors in non sporulating Firmicutes share this common function with the well-known ComX of naturally transformable streptococci.
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