H-NS, its family members and their regulation of virulence genes in Shigella species

Document Type

Book Review


The histone-like nucleoid structuring protein (H-NS) has played a key role in shaping the evolution of Shigella spp., and provides the backdrop to the regulatory cascade that controls virulence by silencing many genes found on the large virulence plasmid. H-NS and its paralogue StpA are present in all four Shigella spp., but a second H-NS paralogue, Sfh, is found in the Shigella flexneri type strain 2457T, which is routinely used in studies of Shigella pathogenesis. While StpA and Sfh have been proposed to serve as “molecular backups” for H-NS, the apparent redundancy of these proteins is questioned by in vitro studies and work done in Escherichia coli. In this review, we describe the current understanding of the regulatory activities of the H-NS family members, the challenges associated with studying these proteins and their role in the regulation of virulence genes in Shigella. © 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


Anti-silencing mechanisms; H-NS; Shigella; Silencing mechanisms; Transcription; Virulence gene expression; Xenogeneic silencing

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