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Mol Microbiol. 2006 May;60(3):765-82.

Identification of Bacillus subtilis sigma-dependent genes that provide intrinsic resistance to antimicrobial compounds produced by Bacilli.

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Department of Microbiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-8101, USA.


Bacillus subtilis produces many antibiotics of varying structures and specificity. Here we identify a prominent role for sigma(W), an extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factor, in providing intrinsic resistance to antimicrobial compounds produced by other Bacilli. By using a panel of B. subtilis mutants disrupted for each of the 30 known sigma(W)-dependent operons we identified resistance genes for at least three different antimicrobial compounds. The ydbST and fosB genes contribute to resistance to antimicrobial compound(s) produced by B. amyloliquefaciens FZB42, the yqeZyqfAB operon provides resistance to the SPbeta prophage-encoded bacteriocin sublancin, and the yknWXYZ operon and yfhL provide resistance to the antimicrobial peptide SdpC. YfhL encodes a paralogue of SdpI, a membrane protein that provides immunity to SdpC. In competition experiments, we identify sigma(W) as a key factor in allowing B. subtilis to resist antibiotic killing and encroachment by competing strains. Together with the previous observation that sigma(W) provides inducible resistance against the Streptomyces antibiotic fosfomycin, these studies support the notion that sigma(W) controls an antibiosis regulon important in the microbial ecology of soil bacteria.

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