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A novel regulatory factor affecting the transcription of methionine biosynthesis genes in Escherichia coli experiencing sustained nitrogen starvation

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journal contribution
posted on 14.09.2020, 10:28 by Amy Switzer, Dimitrios Evangelopoulos, Rita Figueira, Luiz Pedro S de Carvalho, Daniel R Brown, Sivaramesh Wigneshweraraj
The initial adaptive transcriptional response to nitrogen (N) starvation in Escherichia coli involves large-scale alterations to the transcriptome mediated by the transcriptional activator, NtrC. One of these NtrC-activated genes is yeaG, which encodes a conserved bacterial kinase. Although it is known that YeaG is required for optimal survival under sustained N starvation, the molecular basis by which YeaG benefits N starved E. coli remains elusive. By combining transcriptomics with targeted metabolomics analyses, we demonstrate that the methionine biosynthesis pathway becomes transcriptionally dysregulated in ΔyeaG bacteria experiencing sustained N starvation. It appears the ability of MetJ, the master transcriptional repressor of methionine biosynthesis genes, to effectively repress transcription of genes under its control is compromised in ΔyeaG bacteria under sustained N starvation, resulting in transcriptional derepression of MetJ-regulated genes. Although the aberrant biosynthesis does not appear to be a contributing factor for the compromised viability of ΔyeaG bacteria experiencing sustained N starvation, this study identifies YeaG as a novel regulatory factor in E. coli affecting the transcription of methionine biosynthesis genes under sustained N starvation.