Xenogeneic silencing relies on temperature-dependent phosphorylation of the host H-NS protein in Shewanella. Academic Article uri icon


  • Lateral gene transfer (LGT) plays a key role in shaping the genome evolution and environmental adaptation of bacteria. Xenogeneic silencing is crucial to ensure the safe acquisition of LGT genes into host pre-existing regulatory networks. We previously found that the host nucleoid structuring protein (H-NS) silences prophage CP4So at warm temperatures yet enables this prophage to excise at cold temperatures in Shewanella oneidensis. However, whether H-NS silences other genes and how bacteria modulate H-NS to regulate the expression of genes have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we discovered that the H-NS silences many LGT genes and the xenogeneic silencing of H-NS relies on a temperature-dependent phosphorylation at warm temperatures in S. oneidensis. Specifically, phosphorylation of H-NS at Ser42 is critical for silencing the cold-inducible genes including the excisionase of CP4So prophage, a cold shock protein, and a stress-related chemosensory system. By contrast, nonphosphorylated H-NS derepresses the promoter activity of these genes/operons to enable their expression at cold temperatures. Taken together, our results reveal that the posttranslational modification of H-NS can function as a regulatory switch to control LGT gene expression in host genomes to enable the host bacterium to react and thrive when environmental temperature changes.

published proceedings

  • Nucleic Acids Res

altmetric score

  • 16.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Liu, X., Lin, S., Liu, T., Zhou, Y., Wang, W., Yao, J., ... Wang, X.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Liu, Xiaoxiao||Lin, Shituan||Liu, Tianlang||Zhou, Yiqing||Wang, Weiquan||Yao, Jianyun||Guo, Yunxue||Tang, Kaihao||Chen, Ran||Benedik, Michael J||Wang, Xiaoxue

publication date

  • April 2021