Microbiology Editor's Choice: How E. coli adapts to nitrogen starvation

Posted on November 5, 2018   by Microbiology Society

Each month, a manuscript published in our flagship journal Microbiology is chosen by a member of the Editorial Board. This month, the paper is A novel regulatory factor affecting the transcription of methionine biosynthesis genes in Escherichia coli experiencing sustained nitrogen starvation and was chosen by Dr Isabelle Martin-Verstraete.


This interesting manuscript analyzes the biological role of a kinase YeaG, which is switched on during nitrogen starvation via the regulator NtrC. YeaG plays a key role in the survival upon extended nitrogen starvation and controls methionine biosynthesis by an uncharacterized mechanism. This work is a nice example of integration of transcriptomics and metabolomics approaches to decipher a dynamic adaptive response to sustained N-starvation.

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

Conditions that sustain constant bacterial growth are seldom found in nature. Adaptive responses that allow bacteria to cope with, and survive, nutrient starvation primarily manifest themselves through large-scale changes in gene expression.

Escherichia coli, bacteria often found in the human gut, have evolved a rapid response to nitrogen starvation.

In this study, we uncovered that a gene expressed as part of this response, known as yeaG, acts as a metabolic brake during nitrogen starvation to repress expression of energetically costly pathways to ensure viability of the bacterial cell until nutrient conditions improve.

To access the full paper, click here. Editor's Choice articles published in Microbiology are free to read.