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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Oct 14;94(21):11210-5.

Inorganic polyphosphate and the induction of rpoS expression.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060, Japan.


Inorganic polyphosphate [poly(P)] levels in Escherichia coli were reduced to barely detectable concentrations by expression of the plasmid-borne gene for a potent yeast exopolyphosphatase [poly(P)ase]. As a consequence, resistance to H2O2 was greatly diminished, particularly in katG (catalase HPI) mutants, implying a major role for the other catalase, the stationary-phase KatE (HPII), which is rpoS dependent. Resistance was restored to wild-type levels by complementation with plasmids expressing ppk, the gene for PPK [the polyphosphate kinase that generates poly(P)]. Induction of expression of both katE and rpoS (the stationary-phase sigma factor) was prevented in cells in which the poly(P)ase was overproduced. Inasmuch as this inhibition by poly(P)ase did not affect the levels of the stringent-response guanosine nucleotides (pppGpp and ppGpp) and in view of the capacity of additional rpoS expression to suppress the poly(P)ase inhibition of katE expression, a role is proposed for poly(P) in inducing the expression of rpoS.

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