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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Jun;28(6):1187-97.

PhoP-P and RNA polymerase sigmaA holoenzyme are sufficient for transcription of Pho regulon promoters in Bacillus subtilis: PhoP-P activator sites within the coding region stimulate transcription in vitro.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60607, USA.


The Bacillus subtilis pstS operon and phoA gene are members of the Pho regulon that is controlled by PhoR, a histidine kinase, and PhoP, a response regulator. Footprinting analysis showed that phosphorylated PhoP extended the PhoP protected region in pstS and phoA promoters, and also bound to a separate site within the coding region of each gene. Our previous in vivo studies have shown that, in contrast to other Pho regulon promoters that are not expressed in either phoP or phoR mutants, a low-level induction from the pstS promoter (25% of parent strain) can be detected in a phoR mutant. In this study, by using an in vitro transcription system, we demonstrate that (i) only phosphorylated PhoP is a transcriptional activator of the pstS operon and of the phoA gene; (ii) phosphorylated PhoP and RNA polymerase sigmaA holoenzyme are sufficient for in vitro transcription of the pstS promoter and the phoA promoter; (iii) the activation of the pstS promoter requires lower concentrations of phosphorylated PhoP than does the phoA promoter for transcription; and (iv) PhoP binding sites in both the pstS promoter core binding region and in the 5' coding region of the gene, which have been identified by footprinting analysis, are important for the transcription of the pstS promoter in vitro.

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