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J Bacteriol. Dec 1993; 175(24): 7931–7937.
PMCID: PMC206971

Stress-induced activation of the sigma B transcription factor of Bacillus subtilis.

Abstract

The alternative transcription factor sigma B of Bacillus subtilis is activated during the stationary growth phase by a regulatory network responsive to stationary-phase signals. On the basis of the results reported here, we propose that sigma B controls a general stress regulon that is induced when cells encounter a variety of growth-limiting conditions. Expression of genes controlled by sigma B, including the ctc gene and the sigB operon that codes for sigma B and its associated regulatory proteins, was dramatically induced in both the exponential and stationary phases by environmental challenges known to elicit a general stress response. After cells were subjected to salt stress, the increased expression of lacZ transcriptional fusions to the ctc and sigB genes was entirely dependent on sigma B, and primer extension experiments confirmed that the sigma B-dependent transcriptional start site was used during salt induction of sigB operon expression. Western blotting (immunoblotting) experiments measuring the levels of sigma B protein indicated that ethanol addition and heat stress also induced sigma B activity during logarithmic growth. Salt and ethanol induction during logarithmic growth required RsbV, the positive regulator of sigma B activity that is normally necessary for activity in stationary-phase cells. However, heat induction of sigma B activity was largely independent of RsbV, indicating that there are two distinct pathways by which these environmental signals are conveyed to the transcriptional apparatus.

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Selected References

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