Caister Academic Press

ECF Sigma Factors: from Stress Management to Iron Uptake

Karlijn C. Bastiaansen, Wilbert Bitter and María A. Llamas
from: Bacterial Regulatory Networks (Edited by: Alain A.M. Filloux). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2012)


Gene expression in bacteria is mainly controlled at the level of transcription initiation. To achieve this process a number of different mechanisms have evolved, one of which is the utilization of alternative sigma factors. Sigma factors are small proteins that associate with the RNA polymerase core enzyme (RNAPc) and direct it to specific promoter sequences, where they initiate gene transcription. Bacteria are able to regulate transcription initiation by synthesizing and activating different sigma factors that recognize different promoter consensus sequences. The largest group of alternative sigma factors consists of the so-called extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factors that regulate gene expression in response to cell envelope stresses or environmental stimuli. The activity of ECF sigma factors is controlled by anti-sigma factors and a complex cascade of regulated (proteolytic) modifications. In gram-negative bacteria, ECF sigma factors are also controlled by cell-surface signalling (CSS), a regulatory system that includes an outer membrane receptor in the signal transduction pathway. In this chapter we will discuss the general composition and function of ECF sigma factors and their role in cell envelope stress responses and CSS read more ...
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