Nε-lysine acetylation of a bacterial transcription factor inhibits its DNA-binding activity

Sandy Thao, Chien Sheng Chen, Heng Zhu, Jorge C. Escalante-Semerena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Evidence suggesting that eukaryotes and archaea use reversible Nε-lysine (Nε-Lys) acetylation to modulate gene expression has been reported, but evidence for bacterial use of Nε-Lys acetylation for this purpose is lacking. Here, we report data in support of the notion that bacteria can control gene expression by modulating the acetylation state of transcription factors (TFs). We screened the E. coli proteome for substrates of the bacterial Gcn5-like protein acetyltransferase (Pat). Pat acetylated four TFs, including the RcsB global regulatory protein, which controls cell division, and capsule and flagellum biosynthesis in many bacteria. Pat acetylated residue Lys180 of RcsB, and the NAD+-dependent Sir2 (sirtuin)-like protein deacetylase (CobB) deacetylated acetylated RcsB (RcsBAc), demonstrating that Nε-Lys acetylation of RcsB is reversible. Analysis of RcsBAc and variant RcsB proteins carrying substitutions at Lys180 provided biochemical and physiological evidence implicating Lys180 as a critical residue for RcsB DNA-binding activity. These findings further the likelihood that reversible Ne-Lys acetylation of transcription factors is a mode of regulation of gene expression used by all cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15123
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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