In bacteria, one primary and multiple alternative sigma (σ) factors associate with the RNA polymerase core enzyme (E) to form holoenzymes (Eσ) with different promoter recognition specificities. The alternative σ factor RpoS/σS is produced in stationary phase and under stress conditions and reprograms global gene expression to promote bacterial survival. To date, the three-dimensional structure of a full-length free σ factor remains elusive. The current model suggests that extensive interdomain contacts in a free σ factor result in a compact conformation that masks the DNA-binding determinants of σ, explaining why a free σ factor does not bind double-stranded promoter DNA efficiently. Here, we explored the solution conformation of σS using amide hydrogen/deuterium exchange coupled with mass spectrometry, NMR, analytical ultracentrifugation and molecular dynamics. Our data strongly argue against a compact conformation of free σS. Instead, we show that σS adopts an open conformation in solution in which the folded σ2 and σ4 domains are interspersed by domains with a high degree of disorder. These findings suggest that E binding induces major changes in both the folding and domain arrangement of σS and provide insights into the possible mechanisms of regulation of σS activity by its chaperone Crl.
The stress sigma factor of RNA polymerase RpoS/σS is a solvent-exposed open molecule in solution
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Paola Cavaliere, Sébastien Brier, Petr Filipenko, Christina Sizun, Bertrand Raynal, Françoise Bonneté, Fabienne Levi-Acobas, Jacques Bellalou, Patrick England, Julia Chamot-Rooke, Claudine Mayer, Françoise Norel; The stress sigma factor of RNA polymerase RpoS/σS is a solvent-exposed open molecule in solution. Biochem J 15 January 2018; 475 (1): 341–354. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20170768
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