Journal of bacteriology

Gene expression profiling of the pH response in Escherichia coli.

PMID 12426343


Escherichia coli MG1655 acid-inducible genes were identified by whole-genome expression profiling. Cultures were grown to the mid-logarithmic phase on acidified glucose minimal medium, conditions that induce glutamate-dependent acid resistance (AR), while the other AR systems are either repressed or not induced. A total of 28 genes were induced in at least two of three experiments in which the gene expression profiles of cells grown in acid (pH 5.5 or 4.5) were compared to those of cells grown at pH 7.4. As expected, the genes encoding glutamate decarboxylase, gadA and gadB, were significantly induced. Interestingly, two acid-inducible genes code for small basic proteins with pIs of >10.5, and six code for small acidic proteins with pIs ranging from 5.7 to 4.0; the roles of these small basic and acidic proteins in acid resistance are unknown. The acid-induced genes represented only five functional grouping categories, including eight genes involved in metabolism, nine associated with cell envelope structures or modifications, two encoding chaperones, six regulatory genes, and six unknown genes. It is unlikely that all of these genes are involved in the glutamate-dependent AR. However, nine acid-inducible genes are clustered in the gadA region, including hdeA, which encodes a putative periplasmic chaperone, and four putative regulatory genes. One of these putative regulators, yhiE, was shown to significantly increase acid resistance when overexpressed in cells that had not been preinduced by growth at pH 5.5, and mutation of yhiE decreased acid resistance; yhiE could therefore encode an activator of AR genes. Thus, the acid-inducible genes clustered in the gadA region appear to be involved in glutatmate-dependent acid resistance, although their specific roles remain to be elucidated.