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Effects on Growth by Changes of the Balance between GreA, GreB, and DksA Suggest Mutual Competition and Functional Redundancy in Escherichia coli

Vinella, Daniel, Potrykus, Katarzyna, Murphy, Helen, Cashel, Michael
Journal of bacteriology 2012 v.194 no.2 pp. 261-273
DNA-directed RNA polymerase, Escherichia coli, gene overexpression, genes, microarray technology, mutants, mutation, promoter regions, proteins
It is well known that ppGpp and DksA interact with bacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) to alter promoter activity. This study suggests that GreA plays a major role and GreB plays a minor role in the ppGpp-DksA regulatory network. We present evidence that DksA and GreA/GreB are redundant and/or share similar functions: (i) on minimal medium GreA overproduction suppresses the growth defects of a dksA mutant; (ii) GreA and DksA overexpression partially suppresses the auxotrophy of a ppGpp-deficient strain; (iii) microarrays show that many genes are regulated similarly by GreA and DksA. We also find instances where GreA and DksA seem to act in opposition: (i) complete suppression of auxotrophy occurs by overexpression of GreA or DksA only in the absence of the other protein; (ii) PgadA and PgadE promoter fusions, along with many other genes, are dramatically affected in vivo by GreA overproduction only when DksA is absent; (iii) GreA and DksA show opposite regulation of a subset of genes. Mutations in key acidic residues of GreA and DksA suggest that properties seen here probably are not explained by known biochemical activities of these proteins. Our results indicate that the general pattern of gene expression and, in turn, the ability of Escherichia coli to grow under a defined condition are the result of a complex interplay between GreA, GreB, and DksA that also involves mutual control of their gene expression, competition for RNA polymerase binding, and similar or opposite action on RNA polymerase activity.