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J Bacteriol. Aug 1989; 171(8): 4121–4129.
PMCID: PMC210181

Identification and characterization of genes controlled by the sporulation-regulatory gene spo0H in Bacillus subtilis.


We describe a general strategy for the identification of genes that are controlled by a specific regulatory factor in vivo and the use of this strategy to identify genes in Bacillus subtilis that are controlled by spo0H, a regulatory gene required for the initiation of sporulation. The general strategy makes use of a cloned regulatory gene fused to an inducible promoter to control expression of the regulatory gene and random gene fusions to a reporter gene to monitor expression in the presence and absence of the regulatory gene product. spo0H encodes a sigma factor of RNA polymerase, sigma H, and is required for the extensive reprograming of gene expression during the transition from growth to stationary phase and during the initiation of sporulation. We identified 18 genes that are controlled by sigma H (csh genes) in vivo by monitoring expression of random gene fusions to lacZ, made by insertion mutagenesis with the transposon Tn917lac, in the presence and absence of sigma H. These genes had lower levels of expression in the absence of sigma H than in the presence of sigma H. Patterns of expression of the csh genes during growth and sporulation in wild-type and spo0H mutant cells indicated that other regulatory factors are probably involved in controlling expression of some of these genes. Three of the csh::Tn917lac insertion mutations caused noticeable phenotypes. One caused a defect in vegetative growth, but only in combination with a spo0H mutation. Two others caused a partial defect in sporulation. One of these also caused a defect in the development of genetic competence. Detailed characterization of some of the csh genes and their regulatory regions should help define the role of spo0H in the regulation of gene expression during the transition from growth to stationary phase and during the initiation of sporulation.

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