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J Mol Biol. 2003 Aug 15;331(3):527-39.

Transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of cold-shock genes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Biology MCA, University of Camerino, 62032 Camerino (MC), Italy. claudio.gualerzi@unicam.it

Abstract

A mesophile like Escherichia coli responds to abrupt temperature downshifts (e.g. from 37 degrees C to 10 degrees C) with an adaptive response that allows cell survival and eventually resumption of growth under the new unfavorable environmental conditions. During this response, bulk transcription and translation slow or come to an almost complete stop, while a set of about 26 cold-shock genes is preferentially and transiently expressed. At least some of the proteins encoded by these genes are essential for survival in the cold, but none plays an exclusive role in cold adaptation, not even the "major cold-shock protein" CspA and none is induced de novo. The majority of these proteins binds nucleic acids and are involved in fundamental functions (DNA packaging, transcription, RNA degradation, translation, ribosome assembly, etc.). Although cold-induced activation of specific promoters has been implicated in upregulating some cold-shock genes, post-transcriptional mechanisms play a major role in cold adaptation; cold stress-induced changes of the RNA degradosome determine a drastic stabilization of the cold-shock transcripts and cold shock-induced modifications of the translational apparatus determine their preferential translation in the cold. This preferential translation at low temperature is due to cis elements present in the 5' untranslated region of at least some cold-shock mRNAs and to trans-acting factors whose levels are increased substantially by cold stress. Protein CspA and the three translation initiation factors (IF3 in particular), whose stoichiometry relative to the ribosomes is more than doubled during the acclimation period, are among the trans elements found to selectively stimulate cold-shock mRNA translation in the cold.

PMID:
12899826
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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