Physiological and regulatory convergence between osmotic and nutrient stress responses in microbes

Adrienne M. Brauer, Handuo Shi, Petra Anne Levin, Kerwyn Casey Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Bacterial cells are regularly confronted with simultaneous changes in environmental nutrient supply and osmolarity. Despite the importance of osmolarity and osmoregulation in bacterial physiology, the relationship between the cellular response to osmotic perturbations and other stresses has remained largely unexplored. Bacteria cultured in hyperosmotic conditions and bacteria experiencing nutrient stress exhibit similar physiological changes, including metabolic shutdown, increased protein instability, dehydration, and condensation of chromosomal DNA. In this review, we highlight overlapping molecular players between osmotic and nutrient stresses. These connections between two seemingly disparate stress response pathways reinforce the importance of central carbon metabolism as a control point for diverse aspects of homeostatic regulation. We identify important open questions for future research, emphasizing the pressing need to develop and exploit new methods for probing how osmolarity affects phylogenetically diverse species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102170
JournalCurrent Opinion in Cell Biology
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Crowding
  • Cytoplasmic shrinkage
  • Intracellular density
  • Periplasm
  • RpoS
  • Starvation
  • Stationary phase


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