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J Bacteriol. 2002 May;184(10):2850-3.

The RcsCB His-Asp phosphorelay system is essential to overcome chlorpromazine-induced stress in Escherichia coli.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et de Génétique Moléculaire, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 118 Route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse, France.


The RcsCB His-Asp phosphorelay system regulates the expression of several genes of Escherichia coli, but the molecular nature of the inducing signal is still unknown. We show here that treatment of an exponentially growing culture of E. coli with the cationic amphipathic compound chlorpromazine (CPZ) stimulates expression of a set of genes positively regulated by the RcsCB system. This induction is abolished in rcsB or rcsC mutant strains. In addition, treatment with CPZ inhibits growth. The wild-type strain is able to recover from this inhibition and resume growth after a period of adaptation. In contrast, strains deficient in the RcsCB His-Asp phosphorelay system are hypersensitive to CPZ. These results suggest that cells must express specific RcsCB-regulated genes in order to cope with the CPZ-induced stress. This is the first report of the essential role of the RcsCB system in a stress situation. These results also strengthen the notion that alterations of the cell envelope induce a signal recognized by the RcsC sensor.

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