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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Aug;87(16):6181-5.

Positive control of a global antioxidant defense regulon activated by superoxide-generating agents in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.


Escherichia coli responds to superoxide-generating agents by inducing approximately 40 proteins. We have identified a genetic locus, soxR (superoxide response), that positively regulates 9 of these proteins during superoxide stress. Induction under soxR control is at the transcriptional level, as shown with lac fusions to five paraquat-inducible promoters. Members of the soxR regulon include at least three proteins with demonstrable antioxidant roles: Mn-containing superoxide dismutase (which destroys superoxide radicals), endonuclease IV (which repairs radical-induced damages in DNA), and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (which produces NADPH). Induction of the soxR regulon also leads to diminished levels of the major outer membrane protein OmpF and alteration of the small-subunit ribosomal protein S6. These latter changes confer resistance to a variety of antibiotics. The soxR regulon may thus operate as an inducible defense against xenobiotics in general.

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