A microarray-based antibiotic screen identifies a regulatory role for supercoiling in the osmotic stress response of Escherichia coli.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Genome research, Volume 13, Issue 2, p.206-15 (2003)


Anti-Bacterial Agents, Bacterial Proteins, Cytoprotection, DNA Gyrase, DNA Topoisomerases, Type I, DNA, Bacterial, DNA, Superhelical, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Proteins, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genome, Bacterial, Multigene Family, Novobiocin, Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis, Osmotic Pressure, Pefloxacin, Potassium, Sigma Factor, Sodium Chloride, Stress, Mechanical, Temperature, Transcription, Genetic


Changes in DNA supercoiling are induced by a wide range of environmental stresses in Escherichia coli, but the physiological significance of these responses remains unclear. We now demonstrate that an increase in negative supercoiling is necessary for transcriptional activation of a large subset of osmotic stress-response genes. Using a microarray-based approach, we have characterized supercoiling-dependent gene transcription by expression profiling under conditions of high salt, in conjunction with the microbial antibiotics novobiocin, pefloxacin, and chloramphenicol. Algorithmic clustering and statistical measures for gauging cellular function show that this subset is enriched for genes critical in osmoprotectant transport/synthesis and rpoS-driven stationary phase adaptation. Transcription factor binding site analysis also supports regulation by the global stress sigma factor rpoS. In addition, these studies implicate 60 uncharacterized genes in the osmotic stress regulon, and offer evidence for a broader role for supercoiling in the control of stress-induced transcription.