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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Mar 15; 90(6): 2330–2334.

Bacillus subtilis sigma B is regulated by a binding protein (RsbW) that blocks its association with core RNA polymerase.


sigma B is a secondary sigma factor of Bacillus subtilis. RNA polymerase containing sigma B transcribes a subset of genes that are expressed after heat shock or the onset of the stationary phase of growth. Three genes (rsbV, rsbW, and rsbX), cotranscribed with the sigma B structural gene (sigB), regulate sigma B-dependent gene expression. RsbW is the primary inhibitor of this system with the other gene products acting upstream of RsbW in the sigma B regulatory pathway. Evidence is now presented that RsbW inhibits sigma B-dependent transcription by binding to sigma B and blocking the formation of a sigma B-containing RNA polymerase holoenzyme. Antibodies specific for either RsbW or sigma B will coprecipitate both proteins from crude cell extracts. This is not due to the presence of both proteins on RNA polymerase. Western blot analysis of B. subtilis extracts that had been fractionated by gel-filtration chromatography revealed a single peak of RsbW that did not coelute with RNA polymerase and two peaks of sigma B protein: one that eluted with RNA polymerase and a second that overlapped the fractions that contained RsbW. Reconstitution experiments were performed in which partially purified sigma B and RsbW were added to core RNA polymerase and tested for their ability to influence the transcription of a sigma B-dependent promoter (ctc) in vitro. RsbW efficiently blocked sigma B-dependent transcription but only if it was incubated with sigma B prior to the addition of the core enzyme.

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Selected References

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