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Mol Microbiol. 2002 Apr;44(2):461-78.

The FtsH protease is involved in development, stress response and heat shock control in Caulobacter crescentus.

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1
Division of Molecular Microbiology, Biozentrum, University of Basel, CH-4056, Switzerland.

Abstract

The ftsH gene of Caulobacter crescentus has been isolated and identified as a component of the general stress response of this organism. In C. crescentus, ftsH expression is transiently induced after temperature upshift and in stationary phase. Consistent with this, mutants deprived of the FtsH protease are viable at normal growth conditions, but are highly sensitive to elevated temperature, increased salt concentration or the presence of antibiotics. Overexpression of ftsH resulted in an increased salt but not thermotolerance, emphasizing the importance of the FtsH protease in stress response. Mutants lacking FtsH were unable to undergo morphological and physiological adaptation in stationary phase and, upon starvation, experienced a more pronounced loss of viability than cells containing FtsH. In addition, cells lacking FtsH had an increased cellular concentration of the heat shock sigma factor sigma32, indicating that, as in Escherichia coli, the FtsH protease is involved in the control of the C. crescentus heat shock response. In agreement with this, transcription of the heat-induced sigma32-dependent gene dnaK was derepressed at normal temperature when FtsH was absent. In contrast, the groEL gene, which is controlled in response to heat stress by both sigma32 and a HcrA/CIRCE mechanism, was not derepressed in an ftsH mutant. Finally, FtsH is involved in C. crescentus development and cell cycle control. ftsH mutants were unable to synthesize stalks efficiently and had a severe cell division phenotype. In the absence of FtsH, swarmer cells differentiated into stalked cells faster than when FtsH was present, even though the entire cell cycle was longer under these conditions. Thus, directly or indirectly, the FtsH protease is involved in the inherent biological clock mechanism, which controls the timing of cell differentiation in C. crescentus.

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