Genomic reconstruction of the transcriptional regulatory network in Bacillus subtilis

J Bacteriol. 2013 Jun;195(11):2463-73. doi: 10.1128/JB.00140-13. Epub 2013 Mar 15.


The adaptation of microorganisms to their environment is controlled by complex transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs), which are still only partially understood even for model species. Genome scale annotation of regulatory features of genes and TRN reconstruction are challenging tasks of microbial genomics. We used the knowledge-driven comparative-genomics approach implemented in the RegPredict Web server to infer TRN in the model Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis and 10 related Bacillales species. For transcription factor (TF) regulons, we combined the available information from the DBTBS database and the literature with bioinformatics tools, allowing inference of TF binding sites (TFBSs), comparative analysis of the genomic context of predicted TFBSs, functional assignment of target genes, and effector prediction. For RNA regulons, we used known RNA regulatory motifs collected in the Rfam database to scan genomes and analyze the genomic context of new RNA sites. The inferred TRN in B. subtilis comprises regulons for 129 TFs and 24 regulatory RNA families. First, we analyzed 66 TF regulons with previously known TFBSs in B. subtilis and projected them to other Bacillales genomes, resulting in refinement of TFBS motifs and identification of novel regulon members. Second, we inferred motifs and described regulons for 28 experimentally studied TFs with previously unknown TFBSs. Third, we discovered novel motifs and reconstructed regulons for 36 previously uncharacterized TFs. The inferred collection of regulons is available in the RegPrecise database ( and can be used in genetic experiments, metabolic modeling, and evolutionary analysis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism
  • Bacillales / classification
  • Bacillales / genetics*
  • Bacillus subtilis / classification
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Carbohydrates
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics*
  • Genome, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Nucleotide Motifs
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein Binding
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Regulon / genetics*
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • Transcription Factors