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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Nov 15;156(2):175-85.

Molecular aspects of the E. coli nucleoid protein, H-NS: a central controller of gene regulatory networks.

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Unité de Physicochimie des Macromolécules Biologiques (URA 1149 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


The nucleoid-associated protein H-NS has a central role in the structuring and control of the enteric bacterial chromosome. This protein has been demonstrated to contribute to the regulation of expression for approximately thirty genes. In this article, the molecular aspects of H-NS structure and function are briefly reviewed. H-NS contains at least two independent structural domains: a C-terminal domain, involved in the DNA-protein interactions, and a N-terminal domain, likely involved in protein-protein interactions. Recent reports have revealed that H-NS is a key factor in a multi-component gene regulatory system. Factors have now been discovered which can backup or antagonise H-NS action at certain promoters. These recent findings are summarised and discussed in relationship to the role of H-NS in DNA packaging and nucleoid structure.

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