Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Microbiol. 2005 May;56(4):958-70.

Iron limitation induces SpoT-dependent accumulation of ppGpp in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Institut Jacques Monod (C.N.R.S., Université Paris 6, Université Paris 7), 2 place Jussieu, 75251 Paris Cedex 05, France.


In Escherichia coli the beta-lactam mecillinam specifically inhibits penicillin-binding protein 2 (PBP2), a peptidoglycan transpeptidase essential for maintaining rod shape. We have previously shown that PBP2 inactivation results in a cell division block and that an increased concentration of the nucleotide ppGpp, effector of the RelA-dependent stringent response, confers mecillinam resistance and allows cells to divide as spheres in the absence of PBP2 activity. In this study we have characterized an insertion mutation which confers mecillinam resistance in wild-type and DeltarelA strains but not in DeltarelADeltaspoT strains, devoid of ppGpp. The mutant has an insertion in the fes gene, coding for enterochelin esterase. This cytoplasmic enzyme hydrolyses enterochelin-Fe(3+) complexes, making the scavenged iron available to the cells. We show that inactivation of the fes gene causes iron limitation on rich medium plates and a parallel SpoT-dependent increase of the ppGpp pool, as judged by the induction of the iron-regulated fiu::lacZ fusion and the repression of the stringently controlled P1(rrnB)::lacZ fusion respectively. We further show, by direct ppGpp assays, that iron starvation in liquid medium produces a SpoT-dependent increase of the ppGpp pool, strongly suggesting a role for iron in the balance of the two activities of SpoT, synthesis and hydrolysis of (p)ppGpp. Finally, we present evidence that ppGpp exerts direct or indirect positive control on iron uptake, suggesting a simple homeostatic regulatory circuit: iron limitation leads to an increased ppGpp pool, which increases the expression of iron uptake genes, thereby alleviating the limitation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center