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Stress-induced expression of the Escherichia coli phage shock protein operon is dependent on sigma 54 and modulated by positive and negative feedback mechanisms.

Weiner L., Brissette J.L., Model P.

The phage shock protein (psp) operon of Escherichia coli is strongly induced in response to heat, ethanol, osmotic shock, and infection by filamentous bacteriophages. The operon contains at least four genes--pspA, pspB, pspC, and pspE--and is regulated at the transcriptional level. We report here that psp expression is controlled by a network of positive and negative regulatory factors and that transcription in response to all inducing agents is directed by the sigma-factor sigma 54. Negative regulation is mediated by both PspA and the sigma 32-dependent heat shock proteins. The PspB and PspC proteins cooperatively activate expression, possibly by antagonizing the PspA-controlled repression. The strength of this activation is determined primarily by the concentration of PspC, whereas PspB enhances but is not absolutely essential for PspC-dependent expression. PspC is predicted to contain a leucine zipper, a motif responsible for the dimerization of many eukaryotic transcriptional activators. PspB and PspC, though not necessary for psp expression during heat shock, are required for the strong psp response to phage infection, osmotic shock, and ethanol treatment. The psp operon thus represents a third category of transcriptional control mechanisms, in addition to the sigma 32- and sigma E-dependent systems, for genes induced by heat and other stresses.

Genes Dev. 5:1912-1923(1991) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]