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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1993 Jan; 59(1): 296–303.
PMCID: PMC202094

Biosynthesis of the lantibiotic subtilin is regulated by a histidine kinase/response regulator system.


Subtilin is a lanthionine-containing peptide antibiotic (lantibiotic) which is produced by Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633. Upstream from the structural gene of subtilin, spaS, three genes (spaB, spaT, and spaC) which are involved in the biosynthesis of subtilin have been identified (C. Klein, C. Kaletta, N. Schnell, and K.-D. Entian, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58:132-142, 1992). By using a hybridization probe specific for these genes, the DNA region downstream from spaS was isolated. Further subcloning revealed a 5.2-kb KpnI-HindIII fragment on which two open reading frames, spaR and spaK, were identified approximately 3 kb downstream from spaS. The spaR gene encodes an open reading frame of 220 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 25.6 kDa. SpaR shows 35% similarity to positive regulatory factors OmpR and PhoB. The spaK gene encodes an open reading frame of 387 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of 44.6 kDa and was highly similar to histidine kinases previously described (PhoM, PhoR, and NtrB). Hydrophobicity blots suggested two membrane-spanning regions. Thus, spaR and spaK belong to a recently identified family of environmentally responsive regulators. These results indicated a regulatory function of spaR and spaK in subtilin biosynthesis. Indeed, batch culture experiments confirmed the regulation of subtilin biosynthesis starting in the mid-logarithmic growth phase and reaching its maximum in the early stationary growth phase. Gene deletions within spaR and spaK yielded subtilin-negative mutants, which confirms that subtilin biosynthesis is under the control of a two-component regulatory system.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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