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J Bacteriol. 1992 Jun;174(12):3964-71.

The rcsB gene, a positive regulator of colanic acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli, is also an activator of ftsZ expression.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Wild-type genes which, when overexpressed, are capable of restoring the growth deficiency of the division mutant ftsZ84 of Escherichia coli on L medium containing no added NaCl have been isolated. One of these genes is rcsB, a positive regulator of colanic acid biosynthesis. A direct relationship between rcsB expression and FtsZ activity was observed, suggesting that RcsB specifically increases transcription of ftsZ, thus accounting for the restoration of colony formation by ftsZ84 mutant cells. Analysis of the 5' upstream sequence of rcsB revealed, in addition to the sigma 54 promoter sequence previously reported, a presumptive sigma 70 promoter and LexA-binding site plus an upstream sequence that is found to be essential for the expression of rcsB on a plasmid. The absence of the sigma 54 factor does not have a negative effect on the transcription of rcsB. The RcsB protein is an activator of its own synthesis, particularly in the presence of NaCl. Evidence which suggests that RcsB can be phosphorylated by a presumably modified EnvZ or PhoM sensor protein leading to a suppression of the growth deficiency of ftsZ84 mutant cells and to an increase in colanic acid production was obtained. We also demonstrated that the level of colanic acid is reduced when the cells carry a multicopy rcsC plasmid, suggesting that the RcsC sensor has phosphatase activity.

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