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Gene. 1999 Mar 18;229(1-2):117-24.

Thermo-labile stability of sigmaH (Spo0H) in temperature-sensitive spo0H mutants of Bacillus subtilis can be suppressed by mutations in RNA polymerase beta subunit.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, College of Science, Rikkyo (St. Paul's) University, 3-34-1 Nishi-ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, 171-8501, Tokyo, Japan.


We isolated novel temperature-sensitive mutants of spo0H, spo0H1 and spo0H5, having E61K and G30E amino-acid substitutions within the sigmaH protein, respectively, and located in the highly conserved region, "2", among prokaryotic sigma factors that participates in binding to core enzyme of RNA polymerase. These mutants showed a sporulation-deficient phenotype at 43 degrees C. Moreover, we successfully isolated suppressor mutants that were spontaneously generated from the spo0H mutants. Our genetic analysis of these suppressor mutations revealed that the suppressor mutations are within the rpoB gene coding for the beta subunit of RNA polymerase. The mutations caused single amino-acid substitutions, E857A and P1055S, in rpoB18 and rpoB532 mutants that were generated from spo0H1 and spo0H5, respectively. Whereas the sigmaH-dependent expression of a spo0A-bgaB fusion was greatly reduced in both spo0H mutants, their expression was partially restored in the suppressor mutants at 43 degrees C. Western blot analysis showed that the level of sigmaH protein in the wild type increased between T0 and T2 and decreased after T3, while the level of sigmaH protein in spo0H mutants was greatly reduced throughout growth, indicating that the mutant sigmaH proteins were rapidly degraded by some unknown proteolytic enzyme(s). The analysis of the half-life of sigmaH protein showed that the short life of sigmaH in spo0H mutants is prolonged in the suppressor mutants. These findings suggest that, at least to some extent, the process of E-sigmaH formation may be involved in stabilization of sigmaH at the onset of sporulation.

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