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J Bacteriol. 2006 Feb;188(3):1103-12.

The Fnr regulon of Bacillus subtilis.

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Institute of Microbiology, Technical University of Braunschweig, Spielmannstr. 7, D-38106 Braunschweig, Germany.


The Bacillus subtilis transcriptional regulator Fnr is an integral part of the regulatory cascade required for the adaptation of the bacterium to low oxygen tension. The B. subtilis Fnr regulon was defined via transcriptomic analysis in combination with bioinformatic-based binding site prediction. Four distinct groups of Fnr-dependent genes were observed. Group 1 genes (narKfnr, narGHJI, and arfM) are generally induced by Fnr under anaerobic conditions. All corresponding promoters contain an essential Fnr-binding site centered -41.5/-40.5 bp upstream of the transcriptional start point, suggesting their induction by direct Fnr interaction. Group 2 genes (alsSD, ldh lctP, ywcJ, and cydABCD) are characterized by anaerobic repression in the presence of nitrate. Mutational analysis of the Fnr-binding sites found in three of the corresponding promoters excluded their function in Fnr-mediated repression. Genetic evidence showing that group 2 genes are anaerobically repressed by nitrate reductase formation was accumulated. A possible role of the redox regulator YdiH in the regulation of group 2 genes was initially investigated. Group 3 genes are characterized by their Fnr-dependent activation in the presence of nitrate and the lack of an Fnr-binding site in their promoters. The analysis of Group 3 gene transcription (ykuNOP and ydbN) indicated that Fnr induces nitrate reductase production, which leads to the formation of the regulatory compound nitrite from nitrate. Finally, the group 4 operon acoABCL, lacking an Fnr-binding site, requires Fnr-dependent nitrate reductase formation for its general anaerobic induction. A regulatory model for the observed complex Fnr-mediated gene expression was deduced.

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