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Transcription from the P3 Promoter of the Bacillus subtilis spx Gene Is Induced in Response to Disulfide Stress▿

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Gene Regulation


The spx gene of Bacillus subtilis encodes a global regulator that controls transcription initiation in response to oxidative stress by interaction with RNA polymerase (RNAP). It is located in a dicistronic operon with the yjbC gene. The spx gene DNA complements an spx null mutation with respect to disulfide stress resistance, suggesting that spx is transcribed from a promoter located in the intergenic region of yjbC and spx. Transcription of the yjbC-spx operon has been reported to be driven by four promoters, three (P1, P2, and PB) residing upstream of yjbC and one (PM) located in the intergenic region between yjbC and spx. Primer extension analysis uncovered a second intergenic promoter, P3, from which transcription is elevated in cells treated with the thiol-specific oxidant diamide. P3 is utilized by the σA form of RNA polymerase in vitro without the involvement of a transcriptional activator. Transcriptional induction from P3 did not require an Spx-RNAP interaction and was observed in a deletion mutant lacking DNA upstream of position −40 of the P3 promoter start site. Deletion mutants with endpoints 3′ to the P3 transcriptional start site (positions +5, +15, and +30) showed near-constitutive transcription at the induced level, indicating the presence of a negative control element downstream of the P3 promoter sequence. Point mutations characterized by bgaB fusion expression and primer extension analyses uncovered evidence for a second cis-acting site in the P3 promoter sequence itself. The data indicate that spx transcription is under negative transcriptional control that is reversed when disulfide stress is encountered.

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