A mechanism for regulating gene expression at the level of transcription utilizes an antagonist of the sigma transcription factor known as the anti-sigma (anti-σ) factor. The cytoplasmic class of anti-σ factors has been well characterized. The class includes AsiA form bacteriophage T4, which inhibits σ70; FlgM, present in both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, which inhibits the flagella sigma factor σ28; SpoIIAB, which inhibits the sporulation-specific sigma factors, σF and σG, of ; RbsW of , which inhibits stress response sigma factor σB; and DnaK, a general regulator of the heat shock response, which in bacteria inhibits the heat shock sigma factor σ32. In addition to this class of well-characterized cytoplasmic anti-sigma factors, a new class of homologous, inner-membrane–bound anti-σ factors has recently been discovered in a variety of eubacteria. This new class of anti-σ factors regulates the expression of so-called extracytoplasmic functions, and hence is known as the ECF subfamily of anti-sigma factors. The range of cell processes regulated by anti-σ factors is highly varied and includes bacteriophage phage growth, sporulation, stress response, flagellar biosynthesis, pigment production, ion transport, and virulence.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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