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1.  Reduction of Cellular Stress by TolC-Dependent Efflux Pumps in Escherichia coli Indicated by BaeSR and CpxARP Activation of spy in Efflux Mutants 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(5):1042-1050.
Escherichia coli has nine inner membrane efflux pumps which complex with the outer membrane protein TolC and cognate membrane fusion proteins to form tripartite transperiplasmic pumps with diverse functions, including the expulsion of antibiotics. We recently observed that tolC mutants have elevated activities for three stress response regulators, MarA, SoxS, and Rob, and we suggested that TolC-dependent efflux is required to prevent the accumulation of stressful cellular metabolites. Here, we used spy::lacZ fusions to show that two systems for sensing/repairing extracytoplasmic stress, BaeRS and CpxARP, are activated in the absence of TolC-dependent efflux. In either tolC mutants or bacteria with mutations in the genes for four TolC-dependent efflux pumps, spy expression was increased 6- to 8-fold. spy encodes a periplasmic chaperone regulated by the BaeRS and CpxARP stress response systems. The overexpression of spy in tolC or multiple efflux pump mutants also depended on these systems. spy overexpression was not due to acetate, ethanol, or indole accumulation, since external acetate had only a minor effect on wild-type cells, ethanol had a large effect that was not CpxA dependent, and a tolC tnaA mutant which cannot accumulate internal indole overexpressed spy. We propose that, unless TolC-dependent pumps excrete certain metabolites, the metabolites accumulate and activate at least five different stress response systems.
PMCID: PMC3571319  PMID: 23264577
2.  Promoter Discrimination at Class I MarA Regulon Promoters Mediated by Glutamic Acid 89 of the MarA Transcriptional Activator of Escherichia coli▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(2):506-515.
Three paralogous transcriptional activators MarA, SoxS, and Rob, activate >40 Escherichia coli promoters. To understand why MarA does not activate certain promoters as strongly as SoxS, we compared MarA, MarA mutants, and SoxS for their abilities to activate 16 promoters and to bind their cognate marbox binding sites. Replacement of the MarA glutamic acid residue 89 with alanine greatly increased the marbox binding and activation of many class I promoters. Like cells constitutive for SoxS, cells expressing the MarA with the E89A mutation were more resistant to superoxides than those harboring WT MarA. The activities of several other E89 substitutions ranked as follows: E89A > E89G > E89V > WT > E89D. Increased binding and activation occurred only at class I promoters when the 12th base of the promoter's marbox (a position at which there is no known interaction between the marbox and MarA) was not a T residue. Furthermore, WT MarA binding to a synthetic marbox in vitro was enhanced when the phosphate group between positions 12 and 13 was eliminated on one strand. The results demonstrate that relatively minor changes in a single amino acid side chain (e.g., alanine to valine or glutamic acid to aspartic acid) can strongly influence activity despite any evidence that the side chain is involved in positive interactions with either DNA or RNA polymerase. We present a model which attributes the differences in binding and activation to the interference between the β- and γ-carbons of the amino acid at position 89 and the phosphate group between positions 12 and 13.
PMCID: PMC3019838  PMID: 21097628
3.  Proposal for a Uniform Nomenclature for Simian Virus 40 Mutants 
Journal of Virology  1972;9(3):562-563.
A uniform nomenclature for simian virus 40 mutants has been developed. This nomenclature should evolve into a comprehensive nomenclature as new mutants and information are obtained. Hopefully, his nomenclature will also stimulate the development of a comprehensive nomenclature for all animal virus mutants.
PMCID: PMC356335  PMID: 4335666
4.  Constitutive SoxS Expression in a Fluoroquinolone-Resistant Strain with a Truncated SoxR Protein and Identification of a New Member of the marA-soxS-rob Regulon, mdtG▿  
Elevated levels of fluoroquinolone resistance are frequently found among Escherichia coli clinical isolates. This study investigated the antibiotic resistance mechanisms of strain NorE5, derived in vitro by exposing an E. coli clinical isolate, PS5, to two selection steps with increasing concentrations of norfloxacin. In addition to the amino acid substitution in GyrA (S83L) present in PS5, NorE5 has an amino acid change in ParC (S80R). Furthermore, we now find by Western blotting that NorE5 has a multidrug resistance phenotype resulting from the overexpression of the antibiotic resistance efflux pump AcrAB-TolC. Microarray and gene fusion analyses revealed significantly increased expression in NorE5 of soxS, a transcriptional activator of acrAB and tolC. The high soxS activity is attributable to a frameshift mutation that truncates SoxR, rendering it a constitutive transcriptional activator of soxS. Furthermore, microarray and reverse transcription-PCR analyses showed that mdtG (yceE), encoding a putative efflux pump, is overexpressed in the resistant strain. SoxS, MarA, and Rob activated an mdtG::lacZ fusion, and SoxS was shown to bind to the mdtG promoter, showing that mdtG is a member of the marA-soxS-rob regulon. The mdtG marbox sequence is in the backward or class I orientation within the promoter, and its disruption resulted in a loss of inducibility by MarA, SoxS, and Rob. Thus, chromosomal mutations in parC and soxR are responsible for the increased antibiotic resistance of NorE5.
PMCID: PMC2825980  PMID: 20008776
5.  An Excretory Function for the Escherichia coli Outer Membrane Pore TolC: Upregulation of marA and soxS Transcription and Rob Activity Due to Metabolites Accumulated in tolC Mutants ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(16):5283-5292.
Efflux pumps function to rid bacteria of xenobiotics, including antibiotics, bile salts, and organic solvents. TolC, which forms an outer membrane channel, is an essential component of several efflux pumps in Escherichia coli. We asked whether TolC has a role during growth in the absence of xenobiotics. Because tolC transcription is activated by three paralogous activators, MarA, SoxS, and Rob, we examined the regulation of these activators in tolC mutants. Using transcriptional fusions, we detected significant upregulation of marRAB and soxS transcription and Rob protein activity in tolC mutants. Three mechanisms could be distinguished: (i) activation of marRAB transcription was independent of marRAB, soxR, and rob functions; (ii) activation of soxS transcription required SoxR, a sensor of oxidants; and (iii) Rob protein was activated posttranscriptionally. This mechanism is similar to the mechanisms of upregulation of marRAB, soxS, and Rob by treatment with certain phenolics, superoxides, and bile salts, respectively. The transcription of other marA/soxS/rob regulon promoters, including tolC itself, was also elevated in tolC mutants. We propose that TolC is involved in the efflux of certain cellular metabolites, not only xenobiotics. As these metabolites accumulate during growth, they trigger the upregulation of MarA, SoxS, and Rob, which in turn upregulate tolC and help rid the bacteria of these metabolites, thereby restoring homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC2725600  PMID: 19502391
6.  Model of Transcriptional Activation by MarA in Escherichia coli 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(12):e1000614.
The AraC family transcription factor MarA activates ∼40 genes (the marA/soxS/rob regulon) of the Escherichia coli chromosome resulting in different levels of resistance to a wide array of antibiotics and to superoxides. Activation of marA/soxS/rob regulon promoters occurs in a well-defined order with respect to the level of MarA; however, the order of activation does not parallel the strength of MarA binding to promoter sequences. To understand this lack of correspondence, we developed a computational model of transcriptional activation in which a transcription factor either increases or decreases RNA polymerase binding, and either accelerates or retards post-binding events associated with transcription initiation. We used the model to analyze data characterizing MarA regulation of promoter activity. The model clearly explains the lack of correspondence between the order of activation and the MarA-DNA affinity and indicates that the order of activation can only be predicted using information about the strength of the full MarA-polymerase-DNA interaction. The analysis further suggests that MarA can activate without increasing polymerase binding and that activation can even involve a decrease in polymerase binding, which is opposite to the textbook model of activation by recruitment. These findings are consistent with published chromatin immunoprecipitation assays of interactions between polymerase and the E. coli chromosome. We find that activation involving decreased polymerase binding yields lower latency in gene regulation and therefore might confer a competitive advantage to cells. Our model yields insights into requirements for predicting the order of activation of a regulon and enables us to suggest that activation might involve a decrease in polymerase binding which we expect to be an important theme of gene regulation in E. coli and beyond.
Author Summary
When environmental conditions change, cell survival can depend on sudden production of proteins that are normally in low demand. Protein production is controlled by transcription factors which bind to DNA near genes and either increase or decrease RNA production. Many puzzles remain concerning the ways transcription factors do this. Recently we collected data relating the intracellular level of a single transcription factor, MarA, to the increase in expression of several genes related to antibiotic and superoxide resistance in Escherichia coli. These data indicated that target genes are turned on in a well-defined order with respect to the level of MarA, enabling cells to mount a response that is commensurate to the level of threat detected in the environment. Here we develop a computational model to yield insight into how MarA turns on its target genes. The modeling suggests that MarA can increase the frequency with which a transcript is made while decreasing the overall presence of the transcription machinery at the start of a gene. This mechanism is opposite to the textbook model of transcriptional activation; nevertheless it enables cells to respond quickly to environmental challenges and is likely of general importance for gene regulation in E. coli and beyond.
PMCID: PMC2787020  PMID: 20019803
7.  Transcriptional activation by MarA, SoxS and Rob of two tolC promoters using one binding site: a complex promoter configuration for tolC in Escherichia coli 
Molecular microbiology  2008;69(6):1450-1455.
The Escherichia coli tolC encodes a major outer membrane protein with multiple functions in export (e. g., diverse xenobiotics, hemolysin) and as an attachment site for phage and colicins. tolC is regulated in part by MarA, SoxS and Rob, three paralogous transcriptional activators which bind a sequence called the marbox and which activate multiple antibiotic and superoxide resistance functions. Two previously identified tolC promoters, p1 and p2, are not regulated by MarA, SoxS or Rob but p2 is activated by EvgAS and PhoPQ which also regulate other functions. Using transcriptional fusions and primer extension assays, we show here that tolC has two additional strong overlapping promoters, p3 and p4, which are downstream of p1, p2 and the marbox and are activated by MarA, SoxS and Rob. p3 and p4 are configured so that a single marbox suffices to activate transcription from both promoters. At the p3 promoter, the marbox is separated by 20 bp from the −10 hexamer for RNA polymerase but at the p4 promoter, the same marbox is separated by 30 bp from the −10 hexamer. The multiple tolC promoters may allow the cell to respond to diverse environments by coordinating tolC transcription with other appropriate functions.
PMCID: PMC2574956  PMID: 18673442
gene regulation; outer membrane protein; transcriptional start sites; efflux pumps; antibiotic resistance
8.  Activation of the E. coli marA/soxS/rob regulon in response to transcriptional activator concentration 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;380(2):278-284.
The paralogous transcriptional activators, MarA, SoxS and Rob, activate a common set of promoters, the marA/soxS/rob regulon of Escherichia coli, by binding a cognate site (marbox) upstream of each promoter. The extent of activation varies from one promoter to another and is only poorly correlated with the in vitro affinity of the activator for the specific marbox. Here, we examine the dependence of promoter activation on the level of activator in vivo by manipulating the steady-state concentrations of MarA and SoxS in Lon protease mutants and measuring promoter activation using lacZ transcriptional fusions. We found that: (i) the MarA concentrations needed for half-maximal stimulation varied by at least 19-fold among the 10 promoters tested; (ii) most marboxes were not saturated when there were 24,000 molecules of MarA per cell; (iii) the correlation between MarA concentration needed for half-maximal promoter activity in vivo with marbox binding affinity in vitro was poor and (iv) the two activators differed in their promoter activation profiles. The marRAB and sodA promoters could both be saturated by MarA and SoxS in vivo. However, saturation by MarA resulted in greater marRAB and lesser sodA transcription than did saturation by SoxS implying that the two activators interact with RNAP in different ways at the different promoters. Thus, the concentration and nature of activator determines which regulon promoters are activated and the extent of their activation.
PMCID: PMC2614912  PMID: 18514222
gene regulation; AraC protein family; stress response
9.  Detection of low-level promoter activity within open reading frame sequences of Escherichia coli 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(19):6268-6276.
The search for promoters has largely been confined to sequences upstream of open reading frames (ORFs) or stable RNA genes. Here we used a cloning approach to discover other potential promoters in Escherichia coli. Chromosomal fragments of ∼160 bp were fused to a promoterless lacZ reporter gene on a multi-copy plasmid. Eight clones were deliberately selected for high activity and 105 clones were selected at random. All eight of the high-activity clones carried promoters that were located upstream of an ORF. Among the randomly-selected clones, 56 had significantly elevated activity. Of these, 7 had inserts which also mapped upstream of an ORF, while 49 mapped within or downstream of ORFs. Surprisingly, the eight promoters selected for high activity matched the canonical σ70 −35 and −10 sequences no better than sequences from the randomly-selected clones. For six of the nine most active sequences with orientations opposite to that of the ORF, chromosomal expression was detected by RT–PCR, but defined transcripts were not detected by northern analysis. Our results indicate that the E.coli chromosome carries numerous −35 and −10 sequences with weak promoter activity but that most are not productively expressed because other features needed to enhance promoter activity and transcript stability are absent.
PMCID: PMC1275588  PMID: 16260475
10.  Posttranscriptional Activation of the Transcriptional Activator Rob by Dipyridyl in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(5):1407-1416.
The transcriptional activator Rob consists of an N-terminal domain (NTD) of 120 amino acids responsible for DNA binding and promoter activation and a C-terminal domain (CTD) of 169 amino acids of unknown function. Although several thousand molecules of Rob are normally present per Escherichia coli cell, they activate promoters of the rob regulon poorly. We report here that in cells treated with either 2,2"- or 4,4"-dipyridyl (the latter is not a metal chelator), Rob-mediated transcription of various rob regulon promoters was increased substantially. A small, growth-phase-dependent effect of dipyridyl on the rob promoter was observed. However, dipyridyl enhanced Rob's activity even when rob was regulated by a heterologous (lac) promoter showing that the action of dipyridyl is mainly posttranscriptional. Mutants lacking from 30 to 166 of the C-terminal amino acids of Rob had basal levels of activity similar to that of wild-type cells, but dipyridyl treatment did not enhance this activity. Thus, the CTD is not an inhibitor of Rob but is required for activation of Rob by dipyridyl. In contrast to its relatively low activity in vivo, Rob binding to cognate DNA and activation of transcription in vitro is similar to that of MarA, which has a homologous NTD but no CTD. In vitro nuclear magnetic resonance studies demonstrated that 2,2"-dipyridyl binds to Rob but not to the CTD-truncated Rob or to MarA, suggesting that the effect of dipyridyl on Rob is direct. Thus, it appears that Rob can be converted from a low activity state to a high-activity state by a CTD-mediated mechanism in vivo or by purification in vitro.
PMCID: PMC134866  PMID: 11844771
11.  Initiation Points for DNA Replication in Nontransformed and Simian Virus 40-Transformed BALB/c 3T3 Cells 
Journal of Virology  1978;25(1):450-452.
The number of initiation points for DNA synthesis per unit length of DNA in rapidly growing cells is greater for simian virus 40-transformed than for nontransformed BALB/c 3T3 cells.
PMCID: PMC353948  PMID: 202755
12.  Viral DNA Synthesis in Cells Infected by Temperature-Sensitive Mutants of Simian Virus 40 
Journal of Virology  1974;14(1):116-124.
Temperature-sensitive mutants of simian virus 40 (SV40) have been classified as those that are blocked prior to viral DNA synthesis at the restrictive temperature, “early” mutants, and those harboring a defect later in the replication cycle, “late” mutants. Mutants of the A and D complementation groups are early, those of the B, C, and BC groups are late. Our results confirm earlier reports that A mutants are defective in a function required for the initiation of each round of viral DNA synthesis. D mutants, on the other hand, continue viral DNA replication at the restrictive temperature after preincubation at the permissive temperature. The length of time required for D function to be expressed at the permissive temperature—after which infection proceeds unabated on shifting of the cultures to the restrictive temperature—is 10 to 20 h. The viral DNA synthesized in D mutants under these conditions progresses in normal fashion through replicative intermediate molecules to mature component I and II DNA molecules.
PMCID: PMC355484  PMID: 4366021
13.  Complementation Analysis of Simian Virus 40 Mutants 
Journal of Virology  1974;13(5):1101-1109.
Seventy six new temperature-sensitive mutants of simian virus 40 have been isolated. A simple modification of the standard plaquing technique permits complementation analyses to be performed readily. By using this technique the new mutants have been divided into four complementation groups.
PMCID: PMC355420  PMID: 4363253
14.  Salmonella typhimurium Mutants Lacking Ribonuclease I: Effect on the Polarity of Histidine Mutants 
Journal of Bacteriology  1973;113(3):1207-1212.
Mutants of Salmonella typhimurium containing 1 to 2% of wild-type ribonuclease I activity were isolated. The rns mutation had no effect on the polarity of mutations in the S. typhimurium histidine operon. Even in the presence of an rns mutation, it was not possible to obtain strong suppressors of the polarity of two polar mutations in the his operon.
PMCID: PMC251683  PMID: 4347966
15.  Purine Phosphoribosyltransferases of Salmonella typhimurium 
Journal of Bacteriology  1972;112(2):1010-1013.
Evidence is presented that Salmonella typhimurium contains two guanine phosphoribosyltransferases.
PMCID: PMC251515  PMID: 4563965
16.  Characterization of an Endonuclease Associated with Simian Virus 40 Virions 
Journal of Virology  1972;10(3):410-416.
An endonucleolytic activity associated with purified simian virus 40 (SV40) virions has been found. The enzyme is present in virions prepared from a number of different host lines. The enzyme is present in all early and late temperature-sensitive mutants examined. Some aspects of the endonucleolytic activity have been examined with SV40 deoxyribonucleic acid as substrate.
PMCID: PMC356480  PMID: 4342049
17.  Genetic Analysis of Simian Virus 40 III. Characterization of a Temperature-Sensitive Mutant Blocked at an Early Stage of Productive Infection in Monkey Cells 1 
Journal of Virology  1972;9(6):956-968.
A temperature-sensitive mutant of simian virus 40 (SV40), ts*101, has been characterized during productive infection in monkey kidney cells. The mutant virion can adsorb to and penetrate the cell normally at the restrictive temperature, but cannot induce the synthesis of cellular deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) nor initiate the synthesis of SV40-specific tumor, virion, or U antigens or viral DNA. First-cycle infection with purified ts*101 DNA is normal at the restrictive temperature, but the resulting progeny virions are still temperature-sensitive. The mutant neither complements nor inhibits other temperature-sensitive SV40 mutants or wild-type virions. The affected protein in the ts*101 mutant may be a regulatory structural protein, possibly a core protein, that is interacting with the viral DNA.
PMCID: PMC356401  PMID: 4338641
18.  Two Mutations in the First Gene of the Histidine Operon of Salmonella typhimurium Affecting Control 
Journal of Bacteriology  1971;106(1):227-237.
Two strains with mutations in the first structural gene of the histidine operon of Salmonella typhimurium were characterized. (The first structural gene specifies the first enzyme of histidine biosynthesis, phosphoribosyltransferase, which is sensitive to feedback inhibition by histidine.) One mutation, hisG3934, results in a phosphoribosyltransferase which is no longer sensitive to feedback inhibition by histidine but is instead subject to inhibition by aspartic acid. The other mutation, hisG3935, allows the histidine operon to be partially repressed by several amino acids, including aspartic acid. Analysis of hisG3935 is consistent with the hypothesis that phosphoribosyltransferase is directly involved in the regulation of the histidine operon.
PMCID: PMC248666  PMID: 4928009

Results 1-18 (18)