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Transcriptional Regulation of the phoPR Operon in Bacillus subtilis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Zoltan Pragai, Dr Nicholas Allenby, Nicola O'Connor, Professor Colin Harwood


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When Bacillus subtilis is subjected to phosphate starvation, the Pho regulon is activated by the PhoP-PhoR two-component signal transduction system to elicit specific responses to this nutrient limitation. The response regulator, PhoP, and its cognate histidine sensor kinase, PhoR, are encoded by the phoPR operon that is transcribed as a 2.7-kb bicistronic mRNA. The phoPR operon is transcribed from two σA-dependent promoters, P 1 and P2. Under conditions where the Pho regulon was not induced (i.e., phosphate-replete conditions or phoR-null mutant), a low level of phoPR transcription was detected only from promoter P1. During phosphate starvation-induced transition from exponential to stationary phase, the expression of the phoPR operon was up-regulated in a phosphorylated PhoP (PhoP∼P)-dependent manner; in addition to P1, the P2 promoter becomes active. In vitro gel shift assays and DNase I footprinting experiments showed that both PhoP and PhoP∼P could bind to the control region of the phoPR operon. The data indicate that while low-level constitutive expression of phoPR is required under phosphate-replete conditions for signal perception and transduction, autoinduction is required to provide sufficient PhoP∼P to induce other members of the Pho regulon. The extent to which promoters P1 and P2 are activated appears to be influenced by the presence of other sigma factors, possibly the result of sigma factor competition. For example, phoPR is hyperinduced in a sigB mutant and, later in stationary phase, in sigH, sigF, and sigE mutants. The data point to a complex regulatory network in which other stress responses and post-exponential-phase processes influence the expression of phoPR and, thereby, the magnitude of the Pho regulon response.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pragai Z, Allenby NEE, O'Connor N, Dubrac S, Rapoport G, Msadek T, Harwood CR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Year: 2004

Volume: 186

Issue: 4

Pages: 1182-1190

ISSN (print): 0021-9193

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5530

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/JB.186.4.1182-1190.2004

PubMed id: 14762014


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