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J Bacteriol. 1996 Nov; 178(22): 6571–6578.
PMCID: PMC178544

General and oxidative stress responses in Bacillus subtilis: cloning, expression, and mutation of the alkyl hydroperoxide reductase operon.


The AhpC subunit of the Bacillus subtilis alkyl hydroperoxide reductase was identified as a general stress protein induced in response to heat or salt stress or after entry of the organism into the stationary phase. The ahp operon, encoding the two subunits AhpC and AhpF, was cloned and localized between the gntRKPZ operon and the bglA locus. Two-dimensional gel analyses revealed an especially strong induction of AhpC and AhpF in cells subjected to oxidative stress. Transcriptional studies showed a 3- to 4-fold induction of ahp mRNA after heat or salt stress or starvation for glucose and a 20-fold induction by oxidative stress, thus confirming the protein induction data for AhpC and AhpF. Stress induction occurred at a sigmaA-dependent promoter that overlaps with operator sites similar to the per box. Compared with the wild type, the ahpC mutant was resistant to hydrogen peroxide because of the derepression of the peroxide regulon (N. Bsat, L. Chen, and J. D. Helmann, J. Bacteriol. 178:6579-6586, 1996) but more sensitive to cumene hydroperoxide (CHP) during exponential growth. In contrast, stationary-phase wild-type and ahpC mutant cells displayed complete resistance to treatment with 1 mM CHP. Moreover, a sigmaB mutant was found to be extremely sensitive to CHP during vegetative growth and in stationary phase, which indicates that sigmaB-dependent general stress proteins are involved in the protection of cells against oxidative stress.

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