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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Apr;44(1):205-16.

Selective expression of the beta-subunit of nucleoid-associated protein HU during cold shock in Escherichia coli.

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Laboratory of Genetics, Department of Biology MCA, University of Camerino, Camerino (MC), Italy.


Expression of Escherichia coli hupA and hupB, the structural genes encoding the most abundant nucleoid-associated proteins HUalpha and HUbeta has been studied during cold shock. This article demonstrates that: (i) transcriptional expression of hupA is blocked following a sudden temperature downshift (from 37 degrees C to 10 degrees C), whereas transcription of hupB from the P2 and P3 promoters is maintained at a constitutive level and is activated de novo from the P4 promoter; (ii) all three hupB mRNAs (transcribed from the three natural promoters P2, P3 and P4) become much more stable than the single hupA transcript; and (iii) the hupB transcripts, unlike that of hupA, are efficiently translated in vivo during cold acclimation and can be actively translated in vitro at low temperature. Taken together, the results indicate that during cold shock the expression of the HUbeta subunit is preferentially stimulated and that of HUalpha repressed, suggesting that an altered HUalpha to HUbeta expression ratio resulting in an increase of HUalpha/HUbeta heterodimers and/or (HUbeta)2 homodimers may play an important role during cold adaptation.

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