Stochastic Analysis Demonstrates the Dual Role of Hfq in Chaperoning E. coli Sugar Shock Response

David M. Bianchi, Troy A. Brier, Anustup Poddar, Muhammad S. Azam, Carin K. Vanderpool, Taekjip Ha, Zaida Luthey-Schulten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Small RNAs (sRNAs) play a crucial role in the regulation of bacterial gene expression by silencing the translation of target mRNAs. SgrS is an sRNA that relieves glucose-phosphate stress, or “sugar shock” in E. coli. The power of single cell measurements is their ability to obtain population level statistics that illustrate cell-to-cell variation. Here, we utilize single molecule super-resolution microscopy in single E. coli cells coupled with stochastic modeling to analyze glucose-phosphate stress regulation by SgrS. We present a kinetic model that captures the combined effects of transcriptional regulation, gene replication and chaperone mediated RNA silencing in the SgrS regulatory network. This more complete kinetic description, simulated stochastically, recapitulates experimentally observed cellular heterogeneity and characterizes the binding of SgrS to the chaperone protein Hfq as a slow process that not only stabilizes SgrS but also may be critical in restructuring the sRNA to facilitate association with its target ptsG mRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number593826
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Biosciences
StatePublished - Dec 23 2020


  • cell simulations
  • cellular stress response
  • gene regulatory networks
  • single-molecule techniques
  • small RNA
  • stochastic biology
  • super-resolution microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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