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DNA Res. 2006 Aug 31;13(4):141-53. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

Escherichia coli histone-like protein H-NS preferentially binds to horizontally acquired DNA in association with RNA polymerase.

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Graduate School of Information Science, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5 Takayama, Ikoma, Nara, Japan.


Heat-stable nucleoid-structuring protein (H-NS) is one of the main nucleoid proteins expressed in exponentially growing Escherichia coli cells. In addition to a role in nucleoid organization, H-NS functions as a pleiotropic regulator of gene expression. The genome-wide distribution of H-NS, compared with the distribution of RNA polymerase and transcriptionally active genes, was investigated using a high-density oligonucleotide chip. The new approach utilized in this study revealed that H-NS binds specifically to approximately 250 loci, covering >1000 genes, to maintain transcriptional inactivation. RNA polymerase was detected in >65% of H-NS binding sites with low or no transcriptional activity, indicating that the association of RNA polymerase to promoter regions is a general mode of transcription repression by H-NS. This study also revealed that most H-NS bound DNA have been horizontally acquired, which indicates that repression of inappropriate gene expression by H-NS plays an important role in the diversification of the E. coli genome. This study presents a comprehensive assessment of the distribution of H-NS within the E. coli genome, sheds light on the mechanism underlying the transcriptional regulation by H-NS, and provides new insight into bacterial genome evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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