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Mol Microbiol. 1993 Jul;9(2):365-73.

Sequence and properties of mecA, a negative regulator of genetic competence in Bacillus subtilis.

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Public Health Research Institute, New York, New York 10016.


The development of competence in Bacillus subtilis is regulated by growth conditions and several regulatory genes. In complex media competence development is poor, and there is little or no expression of late competence genes. mec mutations permit competence development and late competence gene expression in complex media, and bypass the requirements for many of the competence regulatory genes. In this paper we describe the cloning and characterization of mecA. The mecA gene product acts negatively in the development of competence. Null mutations in mecA allowed expression of a late competence gene comG, under conditions where it is not normally expressed, including in complex media and in cells mutant for several competence regulatory genes. Overexpression of MecA from a multicopy plasmid resulted in inhibition of comG transcription. The DNA sequence of mecA was determined and the predicted gene product showed no significant similarity to any protein in the database. Expression of a mecA-lacZ translational fusion was constitutive during growth and did not vary significantly in the different media tested. The role of mecA in competence development and other stationary phase phenomena is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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