Resilience in the face of uncertainty: sigma B fine-tunes gene expression to support homeostasis in Gram-positive bacteria.

Gram-positive bacteria are ubiquitous and diverse microorganisms that can survive, and sometimes, even thrive, in continuously changing environments. The key to such resilience is the ability of members of a population to respond and adjust to dynamic conditions in the environment. In bacteria, such responses and adjustments are mediated, as least in part, through appropriate changes in the bacterial transcriptome in response to the conditions encountered. Resilience is important for bacterial survival in diverse, complex, and rapidly changing environments and requires coordinated networks that integrate individual, mechanistic responses to environmental cues to enable overall metabolic homeostasis. In many Gram-positive bacteria, a key transcriptional regulator of the response to changing environmental conditions is the alternative sigma (σ) factor B, σB σB has been characterized in a subset of Gram-positive bacteria including the genera Bacillus, Listeria, and Staphylococcus Recent insight from next generation sequencing results indicates that σB-dependent regulation of gene expression contributes to resilience, i.e., coordination of complex networks responsive to environmental changes. This review explores contributions of σB to resilience in Bacillus, Listeria, and Staphylococcus and illustrates recently described regulatory functions of σB.

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