Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Expression of Shigella flexneri gluQ-rs gene is linked to dksA and controlled by a transcriptional terminator

Valeria C Caballero14, Viviana P Toledo1, Cristian Maturana12, Carolyn R Fisher3, Shelley M Payne3 and Juan Carlos Salazar1*

Author Affiliations

1 Program of Microbiology and Mycology, Institute of Biomedical Science (ICBM), Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

2 Area of Biochemistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

3 Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

4 Present address: Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Biological Science, Catholic University, Santiago, Chile

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:226  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-226

Published: 5 October 2012



Glutamyl queuosine-tRNAAsp synthetase (GluQ-RS) is a paralog of the catalytic domain of glutamyl-tRNA synthetase and catalyzes the formation of glutamyl-queuosine on the wobble position of tRNAAsp. Here we analyze the transcription of its gene in Shigella flexneri, where it is found downstream of dksA, which encodes a transcriptional regulator involved in stress responses.


The genomic organization, dksA-gluQ-rs, is conserved in more than 40 bacterial species. RT-PCR assays show co-transcription of both genes without a significant change in transcript levels during growth of S. flexneri. However, mRNA levels of the intergenic region changed during growth, increasing at stationary phase, indicating an additional level of control over the expression of gluQ-rs gene. Transcriptional fusions with lacZ as a reporter gene only produced β-galactosidase activity when the constructs included the dksA promoter, indicating that gluQ-rs do not have a separate promoter. Using bioinformatics, we identified a putative transcriptional terminator between dksA and gluQ-rs. Deletion or alteration of the predicted terminator resulted in increased expression of the lacZ reporter compared with cells containing the wild type terminator sequence. Analysis of the phenotype of a gluQ-rs mutant suggested that it may play a role in some stress responses, since growth of the mutant was impaired in the presence of osmolytes.


The results presented here, show that the expression of gluQ-rs depends on the dksA promoter, and strongly suggest the presence and the functionality of a transcriptional terminator regulating its expression. Also, the results indicate a link between glutamyl-queuosine synthesis and stress response in Shigella flexneri.

tRNA modification; Gene expression; Stringent response; Osmotic stress