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Mol Microbiol. 1991 Feb;5(2):477-87.

Post-transcriptional control of a sporulation regulatory gene encoding transcription factor sigma H in Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The transcriptional regulatory gene spoOH encodes an RNA polymerase sigma factor called sigma H that directs gene expression at an early stage of sporulation in the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. We now report that conditions that induce sporulation cause a rapid increase in the cellular concentration of sigma H. This increase could account for the stimulated transcription of certain sigma H-controlled genes at the onset of sporulation. Experiments in which the expression of spoOH was monitored by use of a spoOH-lacZ fusion and in which expression of spoOH was artificially manipulated by use of an isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalacto-side-inducible promoter indicate that sporulation-induced increases in the amount of sigma H are not controlled at the level of the transcription of its structural gene. Rather, we infer the existence of post-transcriptional control mechanisms that govern sigma H levels, and we present evidence suggesting that increases in the amount of sigma H at the start of sporulation are due to increased translation or stability of the spoOH mRNA and, to a lesser extent, decreased turnover of spoOH protein.

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