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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar;179(5):1598-608.

Negative regulation of L-arabinose metabolism in Bacillus subtilis: characterization of the araR (araC) gene.

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  • 1Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Oeiras, Portugal.


The Bacillus subtilis araC locus, mapped at about 294 degrees on the genetic map, was defined by mutations conferring an Ara- phenotype to strains bearing the metabolic araA, araB, and araD wild-type alleles (located at about 256 degrees on the genetic map) and by mutants showing constitutive expression of the three genes. In previous work, it has been postulated that the gene in which these mutations lie exerts its effect on the ara metabolic operon in trans, and this locus was named araC by analogy to the Escherichia coli regulatory gene. Here, we report the cloning and sequencing of the araC locus. This region comprises two open reading frames with divergently arranged promoters, the regulatory gene, araC, encoding a 41-kDa polypeptide, and a partially cloned gene, termed araE, which most probably codes for a permease involved in the transport of L-arabinose. The DNA sequence of araC revealed that its putative product is very similar to a number of bacterial negative regulators (the GalR-LacI family). However, a helix-turn-helix motif was identified in the N-terminal region by its identity to the consensus signature sequence of another group of repressors, the GntR family. The lack of similarity between the predicted primary structure of the product encoded by the B. subtilis regulatory gene and the AraC regulator from E. coli and the apparently different modes of action of these two proteins lead us to propose a new name, araR, for this gene. The araR gene is monocistronic, and the promoter region contains -10 and -35 regions (as determined by primer extension analysis) similar to those recognized by RNA polymerase containing the major vegetative cell sigma factor sigmaA. An insertion-deletion mutation in the araR gene leads to constitutive expression of the L-arabinose metabolic operon. We demonstrate that the araR gene codes for a negative regulator of the ara operon and that the expression of araR is repressed by its own product.

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