Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Journal of Bacteriology, Feb. 1998, p. 846–854 Vol. 180, No. 4


Copyright © 1998, American Society for Microbiology


DnaK is essential for starvation-induced resistance to heat, oxidation, and reductive division in Escherichia coli. Studies reported here indicate that DnaK is also required for starvation-induced osmotolerance, catalase activity, and the production of the RpoS-controlled Dps (PexB) protein. Because these dnaK mutant phenotypes closely resemble those of rpoS (o38) mutants, the relationship between DnaK and RpoS was evaluated directly during growth and starvation at 30°C in strains with genetically altered DnaK content. A starvation-specific effect of DnaK on RpoS abundance was observed. During carbon starvation, DnaK deficiency reduced RpoS levels threefold, while DnaK excess increased RpoS levels nearly twofold. Complementation of the dnaK mutation restored starvation-induced RpoS levels to normal. RpoS deficiency had no effect on the cellular concentration of DnaK, revealing an epistatic relationship between DnaK and RpoS. Protein half-life studies conducted at the onset of starvation indicate that DnaK deficiency significantly destabilized RpoS. RpoH (s32) suppressors of the dnaK mutant with restored levels of RpoS and dnaK rpoS double mutants were used to show that DnaK plays both an independent and an RpoS-dependent role in starvation-induced thermotolerance. The results suggest that DnaK coordinates sigma factor levels in glucose-starved E. coli.

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