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J Bacteriol. Jul 1996; 178(13): 3846–3853.
PMCID: PMC232645

Homologous pairs of regulatory proteins control activity of Bacillus subtilis transcription factor sigma(b) in response to environmental stress.


In Bacillus subtilis, activity of the general stress transcription factor sigma B is controlled posttranslationally by a regulatory network that transmits signals of environmental and metabolic stress. These signals include heat, ethanol, or osmotic challenge, or a sharp decrease in cellular energy levels, and all ultimately control sigma B activity by influencing the binding decision of the RsbW anti-sigma factor. In the absence of stress, RsbW binds to sigma B and prevents its association with RNA polymerase core enzyme. However, following stress, RsbW binds instead to the RsbV anti-anti-sigma factor, thereby releasing sigma B to direct transcription of its target genes. These two principal regulators of sigmaB activity are encoded in the eight-gene sigB operon, which has the gene order rsbR-rsbS-rsbT-rsbU-rsbV-rsbW-sig B-rsbX (where rsb stands for regulator of sigma B). Notably, the predicted rsbS product has significant amino acid identity to the RsbV anti-anti-sigma factor and the predicted rsbT product resembles the RsbW anti-sigma factor. To determine the roles of rsbS and rsbT, null or missense mutations were constructed in the chromosomal copies or each and tested for their effects on expression of a sigma B-dependent reporter fusion. On the basis of this genetic analysis, our principal conclusions are that (i) the rsbS product is a negative regulator of or" activity, (ii) the rsbT product is a positive regulator, (iii) RsbS requires RsbT for function, and (iv) the RsbS-RsbT and RsbV-RsbW pairs act hierarchically by a common mechanism in which key protein-protein interactions are controlled by phosphorylation events.

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Selected References

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