rpoE, the gene encoding the second heat-shock sigma factor, σ(E), in Escherichia coli

P. E. Rouviere, A. De las Penas, J. Mecsas, C. Z. Lu, K. E. Rudd, C. A. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

254 Scopus citations


In Escherichia coli, the heat shock response is under the control of two alternative sigma factors: σ32 and σE. The σ32-regulated response is well understood, whereas little is known about that of σE, except that it responds to extracytoplasmic immature outer membrane proteins. To further understand this response, we located the rpoE gene at 55.5′ and analyzed the role of σE. σE is required at high temperature, and controls the transcription of at least 10 genes. Some of these might contribute to the integrity of the cell since ΔrpoE cells are more sensitive to SDS plus EDTA and crystal violet. σE controls its own transcription from a σE-dependent promoter, indicating that rpoE transcription plays a role in the regulation of EσE activity. Indeed, under steady-state conditions, the transcription from this promoter mirrors the levels of EσE activity in the cell. However, it is unlikely that the rapid increase in EσE activity following induction can be accounted for solely by increased transcription of rpoE. Based upon homology arguments, we suggest that a gene encoding a negative regulator of σE activity is located immediately downstream of rpoE and may function as the target of the EσE inducing signal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1032-1042
Number of pages11
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995


  • Heat shock
  • Outer membrane proteins
  • Sigma E
  • Sigma factor
  • Thermotolerance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics


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