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J Bacteriol. 1999 Oct;181(19):6081-91.

Three asparagine synthetase genes of Bacillus subtilis.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Fukuyama University, Fukuyama, Hiroshima 729-0292, Japan. kyoshida@bt.fubt.fukuyama-u.ac.jp


Three asparagine synthetase genes, asnB, asnH, and asnO (yisO), were predicted from the sequence of the Bacillus subtilis genome. We show here that the three genes are expressed differentially during cell growth. In a rich sporulation medium, expression of asnB was detected only during exponential growth, that of asnH was drastically elevated at the transition between exponential growth and stationary phase, and that of asnO was seen only later in sporulation. In a minimal medium, both asnB and asnH were expressed constitutively during exponential growth and in stationary phase, while the expression of asnO was not detected in either phase. However, when the minimal medium was supplemented with asparagine, only the expression of asnH was partially repressed. Transcription analyses revealed that asnB was possibly cotranscribed with a downstream gene, ytnA, while the asnH gene was transcribed as the fourth gene of an operon comprising yxbB, yxbA, yxnB, asnH, and yxaM. The asnO gene is a monocistronic operon, the expression of which was dependent on one of the sporulation sigma factors, sigma-E. Each of the three genes, carried on a low-copy-number plasmid, complemented the asparagine deficiency of an Escherichia coli strain lacking asparagine synthetases, indicating that all encode an asparagine synthetase. In B. subtilis, deletion of asnO or asnH, singly or in combination, had essentially no effect on growth rates in media with or without asparagine. In contrast, deletion of asnB led to a slow-growth phenotype, even in the presence of asparagine. A strain lacking all three genes still grew without asparagine, albeit very slowly, implying that B. subtilis might have yet another asparagine synthetase, not recognized by sequence analysis. The strains lacking asnO failed to sporulate, indicating an involvement of this gene in sporulation.

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