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J Bacteriol. 2016 Oct 7;198(21):3000-3015. Print 2016 Nov 1.

Circuitry Linking the Catabolite Repression and Csr Global Regulatory Systems of Escherichia coli.

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Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida, USA.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for RNA Molecular Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Departamento de Genética Molecular, Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.
Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, Florida, USA


Cyclic AMP (cAMP) and the cAMP receptor protein (cAMP-CRP) and CsrA are the principal regulators of the catabolite repression and carbon storage global regulatory systems, respectively. cAMP-CRP controls the transcription of genes for carbohydrate metabolism and other processes in response to carbon nutritional status, while CsrA binds to diverse mRNAs and regulates translation, RNA stability, and/or transcription elongation. CsrA also binds to the regulatory small RNAs (sRNAs) CsrB and CsrC, which antagonize its activity. The BarA-UvrY two-component signal transduction system (TCS) directly activates csrB and csrC (csrB/C) transcription, while CsrA does so indirectly. We show that cAMP-CRP inhibits csrB/C transcription without negatively regulating phosphorylated UvrY (P-UvrY) or CsrA levels. A crp deletion caused an elevation in CsrB/C levels in the stationary phase of growth and increased the expression of csrB-lacZ and csrC-lacZ transcriptional fusions, although modest stimulation of CsrB/C turnover by the crp deletion partially masked the former effects. DNase I footprinting and other studies demonstrated that cAMP-CRP bound specifically to three sites located upstream from the csrC promoter, two of which overlapped the P-UvrY binding site. These two proteins competed for binding at the overlapping sites. In vitro transcription-translation experiments confirmed direct repression of csrC-lacZ expression by cAMP-CRP. In contrast, cAMP-CRP effects on csrB transcription may be mediated indirectly, as it bound nonspecifically to csrB DNA. In the reciprocal direction, CsrA bound to crp mRNA with high affinity and specificity and yet exhibited only modest, conditional effects on expression. Our findings are incorporated into an emerging model for the response of Csr circuitry to carbon nutritional status.


Csr (Rsm) noncoding small RNAs (sRNAs) CsrB and CsrC of Escherichia coli use molecular mimicry to sequester the RNA binding protein CsrA (RsmA) away from lower-affinity mRNA targets, thus eliciting major shifts in the bacterial lifestyle. CsrB/C transcription and turnover are activated by carbon metabolism products (e.g., formate and acetate) and by a preferred carbon source (glucose), respectively. We show that cAMP-CRP, a mediator of classical catabolite repression, inhibits csrC transcription by binding to the upstream region of this gene and also inhibits csrB transcription, apparently indirectly. We propose that glucose availability activates pathways for both synthesis and turnover of CsrB/C, thus shaping the dynamics of global signaling in response to the nutritional environment by poising CsrB/C sRNA levels for rapid response.

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