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J Bacteriol. 2003 Jul;185(13):3905-17.

Expression of spoIIIJ in the prespore is sufficient for activation of sigma G and for sporulation in Bacillus subtilis.

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Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2781-901 Oeiras Codex, Portugal.


During sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, the prespore-specific developmental program is initiated soon after asymmetric division of the sporangium by the compartment-specific activation of RNA polymerase sigma factor sigma(F). sigma(F) directs transcription of spoIIIG, encoding the late forespore-specific regulator sigma(G). Following synthesis, sigma(G) is initially kept in an inactive form, presumably because it is bound to the SpoIIAB anti-sigma factor. Activation of sigma(G) occurs only after the complete engulfment of the prespore by the mother cell. Mutations in spoIIIJ arrest sporulation soon after conclusion of the engulfment process and prevent activation of sigma(G). Here we show that sigma(G) accumulates but is mostly inactive in a spoIIIJ mutant. We also show that expression of the spoIIIGE155K allele, encoding a form of sigma(G) that is not efficiently bound by SpoIIAB in vitro, restores sigma(G)-directed gene expression to a spoIIIJ mutant. Expression of spoIIIJ occurs during vegetative growth. However, we show that expression of spoIIIJ in the prespore is sufficient for sigma(G) activation and for sporulation. Mutations in the mother cell-specific spoIIIA locus are known to arrest sporulation just after completion of the engulfment process. Previous work has also shown that sigma(G) accumulates in an inactive form in spoIIIA mutants and that the need for spoIIIA expression for sigma(G) activation can be circumvented by the spoIIIGE155K allele. However, in contrast to the case for spoIIIJ, we show that expression of spoIIIA in the prespore does not support efficient sporulation. The results suggest that the activation of sigma(G) at the end of the engulfment process involves the action of spoIIIA from the mother cell and of spoIIIJ from the prespore.

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