Authors: Grainger DC, Lee DJ, Busby SJ.
Transcription factors and sigma factors play a major role in bacterial gene regulation by guiding the distribution of RNA polymerase between the promoters of different transcription units in response to changes in the environment. For 40 years Escherichia coli K-12 has been the paradigm for investigating this regulation and most studies have focused on small numbers of promoters studied by a combination of genetics and biochemistry. Since the first complete sequence for a bacterial genome was reported, the emphasis has switched to studying transcription on a global scale, with transcriptomics and bioinformatics becoming the methods of choice. Here we discuss two complementary direct experimental methods for studying transcription factors and sigma factors and we outline their potential use in rapidly establishing the regulatory networks in newly sequenced bacteria.