Regulon of the N-acetylglucosamine utilization regulator NagR in Bacillus subtilis

J Bacteriol. 2011 Jul;193(14):3525-36. doi: 10.1128/JB.00264-11. Epub 2011 May 20.


N-Acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) is the most abundant carbon-nitrogen biocompound on earth and has been shown to be an important source of nutrients for both catabolic and anabolic purposes in Bacillus species. In this work we show that the GntR family regulator YvoA of Bacillus subtilis serves as a negative transcriptional regulator of GlcNAc catabolism gene expression. YvoA represses transcription by binding a 16-bp sequence upstream of nagP encoding the GlcNAc-specific EIIBC component of the sugar phosphotransferase system involved in GlcNAc transport and phosphorylation, as well as another very similar 16-bp sequence upstream of the nagAB-yvoA locus, wherein nagA codes for N-acetylglucosamine-6-phosphate deacetylase and nagB codes for the glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN-6-P) deaminase. In vitro experiments demonstrated that GlcN-6-P acts as an inhibitor of YvoA DNA-binding activity, as occurs for its Streptomyces ortholog, DasR. Interestingly, we observed that the expression of nag genes was still activated upon addition of GlcNAc in a ΔyvoA mutant background, suggesting the existence of an auxiliary transcriptional control instance. Initial computational prediction of the YvoA regulon showed a distribution of YvoA binding sites limited to nag genes and therefore suggests renaming YvoA to NagR, for N-acetylglucosamine utilization regulator. Whole-transcriptome studies showed significant repercussions of nagR deletion for several major B. subtilis regulators, probably indirectly due to an excess of the crucial molecules acetate, ammonia, and fructose-6-phosphate, resulting from complete hydrolysis of GlcNAc. We discuss a model deduced from NagR-mediated gene expression, which highlights clear connections with pathways for GlcNAc-containing polymer biosynthesis and adaptation to growth under oxygen limitation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*
  • Bacillus subtilis / classification
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Binding
  • Regulon*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Acetylglucosamine