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The Bacillus subtilis DegS-DegU histidine kinase-response regulator pair controls the expression of genes encoding degradative enzymes such as levansucrase (sacB) and of genes involved in genetic competence. The mecA and mecB mutations were previously isolated as allowing competence gene expression in complex media. We have shown that the mec mutations also lead to overexpression of sacB, bypassing the DegS-DegU requirement. This expression was shown to be entirely dependent upon ComK, a positive regulator of competence gene expression. The mecB gene was cloned and its nucleotide sequence was determined. The predicted MecB protein show very high similarity over its entire length with members of the ClpC family of ATPases (60% identity). MecB is essential for growth of B. subtilis at high temperature. MecB also acts as a negative regula...
PrfA is a pleiotropic activator of virulence gene expression in the pathogenic bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Several lines of evidence have suggested that a hierarchy of virulence gene activation by PrfA exists. This hypothesis was investigated by assessing the ability of PrfA to activate the expression of virulence gene fusions to lacZ in Bacillus subtilis. Expression of PrfA in this heterologous host was sufficient for activation of transcription at the hly, plcA, mpl, and actA promoters. Activation was most efficient at the divergently transcribed hly and plcA promoters. The putative PrfA binding site shared by these promoters is perfectly symmetrical and appears to represent the optimum sequence for target gene activation by PrfA. The activation of actA and mpl expression was considerably weaker and occurred more slowly than th...
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