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J Bacteriol. 1994 Nov;176(21):6528-37.

Bacillus subtilis lon protease prevents inappropriate transcription of genes under the control of the sporulation transcription factor sigma G.

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Biological Laboratory, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.


The Bacillus subtilis RNA polymerase sigma factor sigma G is a cell-type-specific regulatory protein that governs the transcription of genes that are expressed at an intermediate to late stage of sporulation in the forespore compartment of the sporangium. Here we report the identification of a mutation (lon-1) that causes inappropriate transcription of genes under the control of sigma G under nutritional and genetic conditions in which sporulation is prevented. The mutation is located at 245 degrees on the genetic map and lies within a newly identified open reading frame that is predicted to encode a homolog to Lon protease. Inappropriate transcription of sigma G-controlled genes in the lon-1 mutant is not prevented by mutations in genes that are normally required for the appearance of sigma G during sporulation but is prevented by a mutation in the structural gene (spoIIIG) for sigma G itself. In light of previous work showing that spoIIIG is subject to positive autoregulation, we propose that Lon protease is responsible (possibly by causing degradation of sigma G) for preventing sigma G-directed transcription of spoIIIG and hence the accumulation of sigma G in cells that are not undergoing sporulation. An integrated physical and genetic map is presented that encompasses 36 kb of uninterrupted DNA sequence from the lon pheA region of the chromosome, corresponding to 245 degrees to 239 degrees on the genetic map.

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