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