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Microbiology. 2004 Jan;150(Pt 1):205-15.

Chlamydia trachomatis sigma28 recognizes the fliC promoter of Escherichia coli and responds to heat shock in chlamydiae.

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Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


The rpsD gene of Chlamydia trachomatis encodes the alternative sigma factor sigma28, which bears strong homology to many bacterial sigma factors, including Escherichia coli sigma8 and Bacillus subtilis sigmaB and sigmaD. Recently, a sigma28 promoter was identified upstream of the late-cycle-expressed gene hctB, which encodes the Chlamydia-histone-like protein 2 (Yu & Tan, 2003). In this study it is shown that the product of chlamydial rpsD is an E. coli sigma28 homologue. It was found that recombinant chlamydial sigma8, in combination with E. coli core RNA polymerase, initiates transcription in vitro from the E. coli sigma28-dependent promoter of fliC. It was also demonstrated that the recombinant chlamydial sigma28 does not recognize major sigma factor sigma70-consensus-like sequences in vitro. In C. trachomatis-infected cells, two rpsD transcripts were detected with 5' ends located 18 (transcript I) and 54 bp (transcript II) upstream of the translational initiation codon at 16 and 30 h post-infection. When the temperature of cultures infected with C. trachomatis was shifted from 35 to 42 degrees C, the rpsD transcript I increased dramatically. The levels of chlamydial sigma28, relative to EF-Tu, were greater throughout the exponential growth phase of the reticulate body, but lower late in the developmental cycle. These data support the hypothesis that sigma28 plays a role in the regulatory network that allows chlamydiae to survive changes in its environment, enabling it to complete its unique developmental cycle.

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