Selective repression by Fis and H-NS at the Escherichia coli dps promoter.

David Grainger, Martin Goldberg, David Lee, Stephen Busby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

95 Citations (Scopus)


Dps is a nucleoid-associated protein that plays a major role in condensation of the Escherichia coli chromosome in stationary phase. Here we show that two other nucleoid-associated proteins, Fis and H-NS, can bind at the dps gene promoter and downregulate its activity. Both Fis and H-NS selectively repress the dps promoter, preventing transcription initiation by RNA polymerase containing sigma(70), the housekeeping sigma factor, but not by RNA polymerase containing sigma(38), the stationary-phase sigma factor. Fis represses by trapping RNA polymerase containing sigma(70) at the promoter. In contrast, H-NS functions by displacing RNA polymerase containing sigma(70), but not RNA polymerase containing sigma(38). Dps levels are known to be very low in exponentially growing cells and rise sharply as cells enter stationary phase. Conversely, Fis levels are high in growing cells but fall to nearly zero in stationary-phase cells. Our data suggest a simple model to explain how the Dps-dependent super-compaction of the folded chromosome is triggered as cell growth ceases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-77
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008


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