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J Bacteriol. 1998 Dec;180(23):6117-25.

H-NS and StpA proteins stimulate expression of the maltose regulon in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Umeå University, S-90187 Umeå, Sweden.


The nucleoid-associated protein H-NS is a major component of the chromosome-protein complex, and it is known to influence the regulation of many genes in Escherichia coli. Its role in gene regulation is manifested by the increased expression of several gene products in hns mutant strains. Here we report findings showing that H-NS and the largely homologous protein StpA play a positive role in the expression of genes in the maltose regulon. In studies with hns mutant strains and derivatives also deficient in the stpA gene, we found that expression of the LamB porin was decreased. Our results showed that the amounts of both LamB protein and lamB mRNA were greatly reduced in hns and hns-stpA mutant strains. The same results were obtained when we monitored the amount of transcription from the malEFG operon. The lamB gene is situated in the malKlamBmalM operon, which forms a divergent operon complex together with the malEFG operon. The activation of these genes depends on the action of the maltose regulon activator MalT and the global activator cyclic AMP receptor protein. Using a malT-lacZ translational fusion and antiserum raised against MalT to measure the expression of MalT, we detected reduced MalT expression in hns and hns-stpA mutant strains in comparison with the wild-type strain. Our results suggest that the H-NS and StpA proteins stimulate MalT translation and hence play a positive role in the control of the maltose regulon.

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