Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011 May 6;6(5):e19235. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019235.

The E. coli anti-sigma factor Rsd: studies on the specificity and regulation of its expression.

Author information

Institut für Physikalische Biologie, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany.



Among the seven different sigma factors in E. coli σ(70) has the highest concentration and affinity for the core RNA polymerase. The E. coli protein Rsd is regarded as an anti-sigma factor, inhibiting σ(70)-dependent transcription at the onset of stationary growth. Although binding of Rsd to σ(70) has been shown and numerous structural studies on Rsd have been performed the detailed mechanism of action is still unknown.


We have performed studies to unravel the function and regulation of Rsd expression in vitro and in vivo. Cross-linking and affinity binding revealed that Rsd is able to interact with σ(70), with the core enzyme of RNA polymerase and is able to form dimers in solution. Unexpectedly, we find that Rsd does also interact with σ(38), the stationary phase-specific sigma factor. This interaction was further corroborated by gel retardation and footprinting studies with different promoter fragments and σ(38)- or σ(70)-containing RNA polymerase in presence of Rsd. Under competitive in vitro transcription conditions, in presence of both sigma factors, a selective inhibition of σ(70)-dependent transcription was prevailing, however. Analysis of rsd expression revealed that the nucleoid-associated proteins H-NS and FIS, StpA and LRP bind to the regulatory region of the rsd promoters. Furthermore, the major promoter P2 was shown to be down-regulated in vivo by RpoS, the stationary phase-specific sigma factor and the transcription factor DksA, while induction of the stringent control enhanced rsd promoter activity. Most notably, the dam-dependent methylation of a cluster of GATC sites turned out to be important for efficient rsd transcription.


The results contribute to a better understanding of the intricate mechanism of Rsd-mediated sigma factor specificity changes during stationary phase.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center