Send to

Choose Destination
Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan 7;41(1):315-26. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks988. Epub 2012 Oct 23.

Dissociation and re-association of RNA polymerase with DNA during osmotic stress response in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Transcription control section, Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD, USA.


The thermodynamic association of RNA polymerase (RNAP) with DNA is sensitive to salt concentration in vitro. Paradoxically, previous studies of changes in osmolarity during steady-state cell growth found no dependence between the association of RNAP to DNA and K(+) concentration in Escherichia coli. We reevaluated this issue by following the interaction of RNAP and genomic DNA in time-course experiments during the hyper-osmotic response. Our results show that the interaction is temporally controlled by the same physical chemistry principle in the cell as in vitro. RNAP rapidly dissociates from the genome during the initial response when the cytoplasmic K(+) accumulates transiently, and concurrently the nucleoid becomes hyper-condensed. The freed RNAP re-associates with the genome during a subsequent osmoadaptation phase when organic osmoprotectants accumulate as K(+) levels decrease. RNAP first surrounds the hyper-condensed nucleoid forming a sphere of RNAP before it progressively moves in to the center of the nucleoid. Our findings reinterpret the dynamic protein-DNA interactions during osmotic stress response. We discuss the implications of the dissociation/association of RNAP for osmotic protection and nucleoid structure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center