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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.

Abstract

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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