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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 6;278(23):20898-905. Epub 2003 Apr 3.

Evidence in support of a docking model for the release of the transcription factor sigma F from the antisigma factor SpoIIAB in Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.


Cell-specific activation of the transcription factor sigmaF during the process of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis is governed by an antisigma factor SpoIIAB and an anti-antisigma factor SpoIIAA. SpoIIAB, which exists as a dimer, binds to sigmaF in a complex of stoichiometry sigmaF.SpoIIAB2. Escape from the complex is mediated by SpoIIAA, which reacts with the complex to cause the release of free sigmaF. Previous evidence indicated that Arg-20 in SpoIIAB is a contact site for both sigmaF and SpoIIAA and that contact with sigmaF is mediated by Arg-20 on only one of the two subunits in the sigmaF.SpoIIAB2 complex. Here we report the construction of heterodimers of SpoIIAB in which one subunit is wild type and the other subunit is a mutant for Arg-20. We show that the dissociation constant for the binding of sigmaF to the heterodimer was similar to that for the wild type, a finding consistent with the idea that sigmaF contacts Arg-20 on only one of the two subunits. Although SpoIIAA was highly effective in causing the release of sigmaF from the wild type homodimer, the anti-antisigma factor had little effect on the release of sigmaF from the heterodimer. This finding is consistent with a model in which SpoIIAA docks on the sigmaF.SpoIIAB2 complex, making contact with the subunit in which Arg-20 is not in contact with sigmaF. SpoIIAB is both an anti-sigmaF factor and a protein kinase that phosphorylates and thereby inactivates SpoIIAA. We show that SpoIIAA effectively displaces sigmaF from a complex of sigmaF with a mutant (SpoIIABR105A) that is impaired in the kinase function of SpoIIAB. This result shows that SpoIIAA-mediated displacement of sigmaF from SpoIIAB does not require concomitant phosphorylation of SpoIIAA.

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