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Annu Rev Microbiol. 1998;52:231-86.

The anti-sigma factors.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


A mechanism for regulating gene expression at the level of transcription utilizes an antagonist of the sigma transcription factor known as the anti-sigma (anti-sigma) factor. The cytoplasmic class of anti-sigma factors has been well characterized. The class includes AsiA form bacteriophage T4, which inhibits Escherichia coli sigma 70; FlgM, present in both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, which inhibits the flagella sigma factor sigma 28; SpoIIAB, which inhibits the sporulation-specific sigma factor, sigma F and sigma G, of Bacillus subtilis; RbsW of B. subtilis, which inhibits stress response sigma factor sigma B; and DnaK, a general regulator of the heat shock response, which in bacteria inhibits the heat shock sigma factor sigma 32. In addition to this class of well-characterized cytoplasmic anti-sigma factors, a new class of homologous, inner-membrane-bound anti-sigma factors has recently been discovered in a variety of eubacteria. This new class of anti-sigma factors regulates the expression of so-called extracytoplasmic functions, and hence is known as the ECF subfamily of anti-sigma factors. The range of cell processes regulated by anti-sigma factors is highly varied and includes bacteriophage phage growth, sporulation, stress response, flagellar biosynthesis, pigment production, ion transport, and virulence.

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