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J Mol Biol. 1983 Aug 5;168(2):351-65.

Deletion analysis of a complex promoter for a developmentally regulated gene from Bacillus subtilis.


SpoVG is a developmentally regulated gene from the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus subtilis. The transcription initiation region for spoVG consists of two overlapping promoters whose startpoints of RNA synthesis are ten base pairs apart (Moran et al., 1981a). These startpoints are separately utilized by two forms of RNA polymerase holoenzyme containing different species of B. subtilis sigma factor. We have constructed a series of deletion mutations that extend into the spoVG promoter region from the downstream and from the upstream directions. Transcription studies with these mutated promoters showed that the functional boundaries of the spoVG promoters extended from the region of the transcription startpoints into an upstream A + T-rich box, which was located 76 to 51 base pairs preceding the downstream startsite. We have unexpectedly discovered that propagation of the spoVG promoter region on a high copy number plasmid in B. subtilis interferes with the process of sporulation by impairing development at an early stage. This was not a general effect of promoter amplification, since the propagation on plasmids of two other strong Bacillus promoters had little or no effect on spore formation. Deletion analysis established that the region of spoVG causing sporulation inhibition closely correlated with DNA sequences required for efficient promoter utilization in vitro. We propose that amplification of spoVG titrates a sporulation-specific regulatory protein that binds at or near the region of transcription initiation.

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