To understand the continuous problems that Escherichia coli O157:H7 causes as food pathogen, this study assessed global gene regulation in bacteria growing on meat. Since FlhD/FlhC of E. coli K-12 laboratory strains was previously established as a major control point in transducing signals from the environment to several cellular processes, this study compared the expression pattern of an E. coli O157:H7 parent strain to that of its isogenic flhC mutant. This was done with bacteria that had been grown on meat. Microarray experiments revealed 287 putative targets of FlhC. Real-time PCR was performed as an alternative estimate of transcription and confirmed microarray data for 13 out of 15 genes tested (87%). The confirmed genes are representative of cellular functions, such as central metabolism, cell division, biofilm formation, and pathogenicity. An additional 13 genes from the same cellular functions that had not been hypothesized as being regulated by FlhC by the microarray experiment were tested with real-time PCR and also exhibited higher expression levels in the flhC mutant than in the parent strain. Physiological experiments were performed and confirmed that FlhC reduced the cell division rate, the amount of biofilm biomass, and pathogenicity in a chicken embryo lethality model. Altogether, this study provides valuable insight into the complex regulatory network of the pathogen that enables its survival under various environmental conditions. This information may be used to develop strategies that could be used to reduce the number of cells or pathogenicity of E. coli O157:H7 on meat by interfering with the signal transduction pathways
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