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J Mol Biol. 1984 Jul 5;176(3):333-48.

A promoter whose utilization is temporally regulated during sporulation in Bacillus subtilis.


The formation of endospores in the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis proceeds according to a temporally ordered program of gene activation. To investigate timing mechanisms in sporulation gene expression, we have isolated and sequenced the promoter region for a B. subtilis gene known as 0.3 kb whose transcription is switched on at about stage III of development. The 5' terminus of the 0.3 kb mRNA was mapped by the S1 nuclease procedure to a position just upstream from its apparent ribosome binding site and initiation codon and just downstream from the transcription termination site for an adjacent gene. This information enabled us to construct a transcriptional fusion in which the 5' region of the 0.3 kb gene was joined to the lacZ gene of Escherichia coli. When introduced into cells of B. subtilis, the 0.3 kb-lacZ fusion caused the synthesis of a fusion-specified RNA that originated from within the 0.3 kb promoter region and extended into the adjacent E. coli DNA, and the induction of beta-galactosidase synthesis at the third to fourth hour of sporulation. Enzyme synthesis required the 0.3 kb promoter, since a deletion of the 5' region of the 0.3 kb gene in the transcription fusion eliminated the production of beta-galactosidase. Induction of the 0.3 kb-lacZ fusion was under developmental control, since the production of beta-galactosidase was blocked or substantially impaired by chromosomal mutations in the sporulation genes spoOB, spoIIA, spoIIE and spoIIIE, but not by a spoIIC mutation. We conclude that the 0.3 kb gene promoter is subject to a developmental clock, which delays its utilization until an intermediate stage of sporulation, and discuss models for how the timing of gene expression is regulated.

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