DNA topology-mediated control of global gene expression in Escherichia coli

G. Wesley Hatfield, Craig J. Benham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

200 Scopus citations


Because the level of DNA superhelicity varies with the cellular energy charge, it can change rapidly in response to a wide variety of altered nutritional and environmental conditions. This is a global alteration, affecting the entire chromosome and the expression levels of all operons whose promoters are sensitive to superhelicity. In this way, the global pattern of gene expression may be dynamically tuned to changing needs of the cell under a wide variety of circumstances. In this article, we propose a model in which chromosomal superhelicity serves as a global regulator of gene expression in Escherichia coli, tuning expression patterns across multiple operons, regulons, and stimulons to suit the growth state of the cell. This model is illustrated by the DNA supercoiling-dependent mechanisms that coordinate basal expression levels of operons of the ilv regulon both with one another and with cellular growth conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-203
Number of pages29
JournalAnnual Review of Genetics
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA supercoiling
  • Energy charge
  • Metabolic regulation
  • SIDD
  • Transcriptional coupling


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