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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Oct;85(20):7637-41.

Two developmental genes encoding sigma factor homologs are arranged in tandem in Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Applied Biochemistry, Faculty of Applied Biological Science, Hiroshima University, Japan.


The sporulation-essential gene spoIIG of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis encodes the sporulation-specific sigma factor sigma 29(sigma E). We report here the initial characterization of a gene, referred to as ORF3, located immediately downstream of the spoIIG gene. The results indicate that ORF3 encodes a sigma homolog, whose expression is highly regulated during development. Analysis of the ORF3 nucleotide sequence reveals an open reading frame encoding a polypeptide of 260 amino acid residues (molecular mass of 30.1 kDa). Its predicted amino acid sequence shows significant similarity to that of other RNA polymerase sigma factor sequences. S1 nuclease mapping experiments indicate that ORF3 is initially cotranscribed with spoIIG from about 1 to 4 hr into the sporulation process and that later on ORF3 is transcribed independently from a new site located between spoIIG and ORF3. The role of ORF3 was investigated by constructing a deletion mutation in its structural gene. The mutant exhibits normal growth but is unable to produce heat-resistant spores. We propose that the ORF3 gene product is a sigma factor or a related peptide essential for sporulation at a late stage of development.

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