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Microbiol Rev. 1991 Dec;55(4):561-85.

Oxidative stress responses in Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Toxicology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


Oxidative stress is strongly implicated in a number of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders, and atherosclerosis, and its emerging as one of the most important causative agents of mutagenesis, tumorigenesis, and aging. Recent progress on the genetics and molecular biology of the cellular responses to oxidative stress, primarily in Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium, is summarized. Bacteria respond to oxidative stress by invoking two distinct stress responses, the peroxide stimulon and the superoxide stimulon, depending on whether the stress is mediated by peroxides or the superoxide anion. The two stimulons each contain a set of more than 30 genes. The expression of a subset of genes in each stimulon is under the control of a positive regulatory element; these genes constitute the OxyR and SoxRS regulons. The schemes of regulation of the two regulons by their respective regulators are reviewed in detail, and the overlaps of these regulons with other stress responses such as the heat shock and SOS responses are discussed. The products of Oxy-R- and SoxRS-regulated genes, such as catalases and superoxide dismutases, are involved in the prevention of oxidative damage, whereas others, such as endonuclease IV, play a role in the repair of oxidative damage. The potential roles of these and other gene products in the defense against oxidative damage in DNA, proteins, and membranes are discussed in detail. A brief discussion of the similarities and differences between oxidative stress responses in bacteria and eukaryotic organisms concludes this review.

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