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The role of the omega subunit of RNA polymerase in expression of the relA gene in Escherichia coli

Chatterji, Dipankar, Ogawa, Yoshito, Shimada, Tomohiro, Ishihama, Akira
FEMS microbiology letters 2007 v.267 no.1 pp. 51-55
messenger RNA, starvation, stress response, DNA microarrays, gene expression, ribosomal proteins, operon, DNA-directed RNA polymerase, Escherichia coli
The rpoZ gene for the omega subunit of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase constitutes single operon with the spoT gene, which is responsible for the maintenance of stringent response under nutrient starvation conditions. To identify the physiological role of the omega subunit, we compared the gene expression profile of wild-type Escherichia coli with that of an rpoZ deleted strain by microarray analysis using an E. coli DNA chip. Here we report on a set of genes which show changes in expression profile following the removal of rpoZ. We have seen that relA, which is responsible for the synthesis of the stringent factor ppGpp and many ribosomal proteins, exhibited noticeable changes in mRNA levels and were therefore further analyzed for their expression using a GFP/RFP two-fluorescent protein promoter assay vector. In the absence of rpoZ, the promoter for the relA gene was severely impaired, but the promoters from the ribosomal protein genes were not affected as much. Taking these results together we propose that the omega subunit is involved in regulation of the relA gene, but induction of the stringently controlled genes in the absence of rpoZ is, at least in part, attributable to a decrease in ppGpp level.