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Cell. 2001 Jan 26;104(2):269-79.

Replication initiation proteins regulate a developmental checkpoint in Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Building 68, Room 530, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


We identified a signaling pathway that prevents initiation of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis when replication initiation is impaired. We isolated mutations that allow a replication initiation mutant (dnaA) to sporulate. These mutations affect a small open reading frame, sda, that was overexpressed in replication initiation mutants and appears to be directly regulated by DnaA. Mutations in replication initiation genes inhibit the onset of sporulation by preventing activation of a transcription factor required for sporulation, Spo0A. Deletion of sda restored activation of Spo0A in replication initiation mutants. Overexpression of sda in otherwise wild-type cells inhibited activation of Spo0A and sporulation. Purified Sda inhibited a histidine kinase needed for activation of Spo0A. Our results indicate that control of sda by DnaA establishes a checkpoint that inhibits activation of Spo0A and prevents futile attempts to initiate sporulation.

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