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Mol Microbiol. 2011 Jun;80(6):1479-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07658.x. Epub 2011 Apr 27.

Contribution of Hfq to photooxidative stress resistance and global regulation in Rhodobacter sphaeroides.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie und Molekularbiologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26, 35392 Gießen, Germany.


The photosynthetic alphaproteobacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides has to cope with photooxidative stress that is caused by the bacteriochlorophyll a-mediated formation of singlet oxygen ((1)O(2)). Exposure to (1)O(2) induces the alternative sigma factors RpoE and RpoH(II) which then promote transcription of photooxidative stress-related genes, including small RNAs (sRNAs). The ubiquitous RNA chaperone Hfq is well established to interact with and facilitate the base-pairing of sRNAs and target mRNAs to influence mRNA stability and/or translation. Here we report on the pleiotropic phenotype of a Δhfq mutant of R. sphaeroides, which is less pigmented, produces minicells and is more sensitive to (1)O(2). The higher (1)O(2) sensitivity of the Δhfq mutant is paralleled by a reduced RpoE activity and a disordered induction of RpoH(II)-dependent genes. We used co-immunoprecipitation of FLAG-tagged Hfq combined with RNA-seq to identify association of at least 25 sRNAs and of mRNAs encoding cell division proteins and ribosomal proteins with Hfq. Remarkably, > 70% of the Hfq-bound sRNAs are (1)O(2)-affected. Proteomics analysis of the Hfq-deficient strain revealed an impact of Hfq on amino acid transport and metabolic functions. Our data demonstrate for the first time an involvement of Hfq in regulation of photosynthesis genes and in the photooxidative stress response.

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