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Mol Syst Biol. 2011 May 24;7:493. doi: 10.1038/msb.2011.24.

Adaptation by stochastic switching of a monostable genetic circuit in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Bioinformatic Engineering, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan.

Abstract

Stochastic switching is considered as a cost-saving strategy for adaptation to environmental challenges. We show here that stochastic switching of a monostable circuit can mediate the adaptation of the engineered OSU12-hisC Escherichia coli strain to histidine starvation. In this strain, the hisC gene was deleted from the His operon and placed under the control of a monostable foreign promoter. In response to histidine depletion, the OSU12-hisC population shifted to a higher HisC expression level, which is beneficial under starving conditions but is not favoured by the monostable circuit. The population shift was accompanied by growth recovery and was reversible upon histidine addition. A weak directionality in stochastic switching of hisC was observed in growing microcolonies under histidine-free conditions. Directionality and fate decision were in part dependent on the initial cellular status. Finally, microarray analysis indicated that OSU12-hisC reorganized its transcriptome to reach the appropriate physiological state upon starvation. These findings suggest that bacteria do not necessarily need to evolve signalling mechanisms to control gene expression appropriately, even for essential genes.

PMID:
21613982
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3130557
Free PMC Article
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