Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Bacteriol. 2013 Feb;195(3):510-22. doi: 10.1128/JB.01505-12. Epub 2012 Nov 21.

Osmotic control of opuA expression in Bacillus subtilis and its modulation in response to intracellular glycine betaine and proline pools.

Author information

  • 1Philipps-University Marburg, Department of Biology, Laboratory for Microbiology, Marburg, Germany.


Glycine betaine is an effective osmoprotectant for Bacillus subtilis. Its import into osmotically stressed cells led to the buildup of large pools, whose size was sensitively determined by the degree of the osmotic stress imposed. The amassing of glycine betaine caused repression of the formation of an osmostress-adaptive pool of proline, the only osmoprotectant that B. subtilis can synthesize de novo. The ABC transporter OpuA is the main glycine betaine uptake system of B. subtilis. Expression of opuA was upregulated in response to both sudden and sustained increases in the external osmolarity. Nonionic osmolytes exerted a stronger inducing effect on transcription than ionic osmolytes, and this was reflected in the development of corresponding OpuA-mediated glycine betaine pools. Primer extension analysis and site-directed mutagenesis pinpointed the osmotically controlled opuA promoter. Deviations from the consensus sequence of SigA-type promoters serve to keep the transcriptional activity of the opuA promoter low in the absence of osmotic stress. opuA expression was downregulated in a finely tuned manner in response to increases in the intracellular glycine betaine pool, regardless of whether this osmoprotectant was imported or was newly synthesized from choline. Such an effect was also exerted by carnitine, an effective osmoprotectant for B. subtilis that is not a substrate for the OpuA transporter. opuA expression was upregulated in a B. subtilis mutant that was unable to synthesize proline in response to osmotic stress. Collectively, our data suggest that the intracellular solute pool is a key determinant for the osmotic control of opuA expression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk