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Mol Microbiol. 2009 Jul;73(2):253-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06767.x. Epub 2009 Jun 23.

The ObgE/CgtA GTPase influences the stringent response to amino acid starvation in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biology and Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, USA.


The stringent response is important for bacterial survival under stressful conditions, such as amino acid starvation, and is characterized by the accumulation of ppGpp and pppGpp. ObgE (CgtA, YhbZ) is an essential conserved GTPase in Escherichia coli and several observations have implicated the protein in the control of the stringent response. However, consequences of the protein on specific responses to amino acid starvation have not been noted. We show that ObgE binds to ppGpp with biologically relevant affinity in vitro, implicating ppGpp as an in vivo ligand of ObgE. ObgE mutants increase the ratio of pppGpp to ppGpp within the cell during the stringent response. These changes are correlated with a delayed inhibition of DNA replication by the stringent response, delayed resumption of DNA replication after release, as well as a decreased survival after amino acid deprivation. With these data, we place ObgE as an active effector of the response to amino acid starvation in vivo. Our data correlate the pppGpp/ppGpp ratio with DNA replication control under bacterial starvation conditions, suggesting a possible role for the relative balance of these two nucleotides.

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