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Gene. 1992 Dec 1;122(1):9-15.

Histone-like proteins are required for cell growth and constraint of supercoils in DNA.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan.


The gene hns of Escherichia coli K-12, which encodes the histone-like protein H-NS, was inactivated by insertion of a DNA (gene hph) encoding hygromycin phosphotransferase. The growth rates of two mutants lacking either one or the other of the histone-like proteins, HU and IHF, were not affected by introduction of the hns mutation. However, cells depleted of HU, IHF and H-NS simultaneously, could not be constructed by P1 phage-mediated transduction. These results, together with our previous finding that cells deficient in both HU and IHF are viable at 30-37 degrees C [Kano and Imamoto, Gene 89 (1990) 133-137] showed that E. coli cells deficient in any two of these three histone-like proteins are viable at 30-37 degrees C, and suggested that simultaneous deficiency of all three of the proteins is lethal. There were no detectable differences in the levels of superhelicity of the reporter plasmids isolated from cells deficient in either IHF or H-NS, or from wild-type cells, but about 15% decrease in negative superhelicity was detected for the reporter plasmid isolated from cells lacking HU and lacking both HU and H-NS. However, the cryptic bgl operon, whose expression was reported to be regulated through topological changes of cellular DNA, could not be activated in cells depleted of HU or IHF. The bgl operon was expressed in cells depleted of both HU and H-NS as well as in cells depleted of H-NS.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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