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Journal of bacteriology

Physiological consequences of multiple-target regulation by the small RNA SgrS in Escherichia coli.


PMID 23873911

Abstract

Cells use complex mechanisms to regulate glucose transport and metabolism to achieve optimal energy and biomass production while avoiding accumulation of toxic metabolites. Glucose transport and glycolytic metabolism carry the risk of the buildup of phosphosugars, which can inhibit growth at high concentrations. Many enteric bacteria cope with phosphosugar accumulation and associated stress (i.e., sugar-phosphate stress) by producing a small RNA (sRNA) regulator, SgrS, which decreases phosphosugar accumulation in part by repressing translation of sugar transporter mRNAs (ptsG and manXYZ) and enhancing translation of a sugar phosphatase mRNA (yigL). Despite a molecular understanding of individual target regulation by SgrS, previously little was known about how coordinated regulation of these multiple targets contributes to the rescue of cell growth during sugar-phosphate stress. This study examines how SgrS regulation of different targets impacts growth under different nutritional conditions when sugar-phosphate stress is induced. The severity of stress-associated growth inhibition depended on nutrient availability. Stress in nutrient-rich media necessitated SgrS regulation of only sugar transporter mRNAs (ptsG or manXYZ). However, repression of transporter mRNAs was insufficient for growth rescue during stress in nutrient-poor media; here SgrS regulation of the phosphatase (yigL) and as-yet-undefined targets also contributed to growth rescue. The results of this study imply that regulation of only a subset of an sRNA's targets may be important in a given environment. Further, the results suggest that SgrS and perhaps other sRNAs are flexible regulators that modulate expression of multigene regulons to allow cells to adapt to an array of stress conditions.