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J Bacteriol. 2001 Oct;183(19):5617-31.

Global analysis of the general stress response of Bacillus subtilis.

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  • 1Institut für Mikrobiologie, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, 17487 Greifswald, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.


Gene arrays containing all currently known open reading frames of Bacillus subtilis were used to examine the general stress response of Bacillus. By proteomics, transcriptional analysis, transposon mutagenesis, and consensus promoter-based screening, 75 genes had previously been described as sigma(B)-dependent general stress genes. The present gene array-based analysis confirmed 62 of these already known general stress genes and detected 63 additional genes subject to control by the stress sigma factor sigma(B). At least 24 of these 125 sigma(B)-dependent genes seemed to be subject to a second, sigma(B)-independent stress induction mechanism. Therefore, this transcriptional profiling revealed almost four times as many regulon members as the proteomic approach, but failure of confirmation of all known members of the sigma(B) regulon indicates that even this approach has not yet elucidated the entire regulon. Most of the sigma(B)-dependent general stress proteins are probably located in the cytoplasm, but 25 contain at least one membrane-spanning domain, and at least 6 proteins appear to be secreted. The functions of most of the newly described genes are still unknown. However, their classification as sigma(B)-dependent stress genes argues that their products most likely perform functions in stress management and help to provide the nongrowing cell with multiple stress resistance. A comprehensive screening program analyzing the multiple stress resistance of mutants with mutations in single stress genes is in progress. The first results of this program, showing the diminished salt resistance of yjbC and yjbD mutants compared to that of the wild type, are presented. Only a few new sigma(B)-dependent proteins with already known functions were found, among them SodA, encoding a superoxide dismutase. In addition to analysis of the sigma(B)-dependent general stress regulon, a comprehensive list of genes induced by heat, salt, or ethanol stress in a sigma(B)-independent manner is presented. Perhaps the most interesting of the sigma(B)-independent stress phenomena was the induction of the extracytoplasmic function sigma factor sigma(W) and its entire regulon by salt shock.

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