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Microbiology. 2002 Nov;148(Pt 11):3441-55.

Genome-wide transcriptional profiling of the Bacillus subtilis cold-shock response.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald,F-L-Jahn-Str 15, D-17487 Greifswald, Germany.


The transcriptome of Bacillus subtilis was analysed at different time points (30, 60 and 90 min) after a temperature downshift from 37 to 18 degrees C using DNA macroarrays. This approach allowed the identification of around 50 genes exhibiting an increased mRNA level and around 50 genes exhibiting a decreased mRNA level under cold-shock conditions. Many of the repressed genes encode enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of amino acids, nucleotides and coenzymes, indicating metabolic adaptation of the cells to the decreased growth rate at the lower temperature. The strongest cold-inducible gene encodes fatty acid desaturase, which forms unsaturated fatty acids from saturated phospholipid precursors, thereby increasing membrane fluidity. The cold-shock-induced increase of mRNA levels of the classical cold-shock genes cspB, cspC and cspD could be verified. Furthermore, besides many genes encoding proteins of unknown function, some genes encoding ribosomal proteins were transcriptionally up-regulated, which points to an adaptive reprogramming of the ribosomes under cold-shock conditions. Interestingly, the amount of mRNA specified by the operon ptb-bcd-buk-lpd-bkdA1-bkdA2-bkdB, which encodes enzymes involved in degradation of branched-chain amino acids, also increases after a temperature downshift. As cells utilize the isoleucine and valine degradation intermediates alpha-methylbutyryl-CoA and isobutyryl-CoA for synthesis of branched-chain fatty acids, this finding reflects the adaptation of membrane lipid composition, ensuring the maintenance of appropriate membrane fluidity at low temperatures. The results of the DNA array analyses were verified for several selected genes by RNA slot-blot analysis and compared with two-dimensional PAGE analyses.

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