Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Nitrogen starvation-induced transcriptome alterations and influence of transcription regulator mutants in Mycobacterium smegmatis

Nadja Jeßberger1, Yinhua Lu12, Johannes Amon1, Fritz Titgemeyer3, Sophia Sonnewald4, Stephen Reid4 and Andreas Burkovski1*

Author Affiliations

1 Lehrstuhl für Mikrobiologie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

2 Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

3 Fachbereich Oecotrophologie, Fachhochschule Münster, Münster, Germany

4 Lehrstuhl für Biochemie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:482  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-482

Published: 22 November 2013



As other bacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis needs adaption mechanisms to cope with changing nitrogen sources and to survive situations of nitrogen starvation. In the study presented here, transcriptome analyses were used to characterize the response of the bacterium to nitrogen starvation and to elucidate the role of specific transcriptional regulators.


In response to nitrogen deprivation, a general starvation response is induced in M. smegmatis. This includes changes in the transcription of several hundred genes encoding e.g. transport proteins, proteins involved in nitrogen metabolism and regulation, energy generation and protein turnover. The specific nitrogen-related changes at the transcriptional level depend mainly on the presence of GlnR, while the AmtR protein controls only a small number of genes.


M. smegmatis is able to metabolize a number of different nitrogen sources and nitrogen control in M. smegmatis is similar to control mechanisms characterized in streptomycetes, while the master regulator of nitrogen control in corynebacteria, AmtR, is plays a minor role in this regulatory network.

AmtR; GlnR; Nitrogen control; Nitrogen metabolism; OmpR/EnvZ