Intermediate Levels of Bacillus subtilis CodY Activity Are Required for Derepression of the Branched-Chain Amino Acid Permease, BraB

PLoS Genet. 2015 Oct 16;11(10):e1005600. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005600. eCollection 2015 Oct.


The global transcriptional regulator, CodY, binds strongly to the regulatory region of the braB gene, which encodes a Bacillus subtilis branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) permease. However, under conditions that maximize CodY activity, braB expression was similar in wild-type and codY null mutant cells. Nonetheless, expression from the braB promoter was significantly elevated in cells containing partially active mutant versions of CodY or in wild-type cells under growth conditions leading to intermediate levels of CodY activity. This novel pattern of regulation was shown to be due to two opposing mechanisms, negative and positive, by which CodY affects braB expression. A strong CodY-binding site located downstream of the transcription start point conferred negative regulation by direct interaction with CodY. Additionally, sequences upstream and downstream of the promoter were required for repression by a second pleiotropic B. subtilis regulator, ScoC, whose own expression is repressed by CodY. ScoC-mediated repression of braB in codY null mutants cells was as efficient as direct, CodY-mediated repression in wild-type cells under conditions of high CodY activity. However, under conditions of reduced CodY activity, CodY-mediated repression was relieved to a greater extent than ScoC-mediated repression was increased, leading to elevated braB expression. We conclude that restricting increased expression of braB to conditions of moderate nutrient limitation is the raison d'être of the feed-forward regulatory loop formed by CodY and ScoC at the braB promoter. The increase in BraB expression only at intermediate activities of CodY may facilitate the uptake of BCAA when they are not in excess but prevent unneeded BraB synthesis when other BCAA transporters are active.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems / biosynthesis
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems / genetics*
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems / metabolism
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacillus subtilis / pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems
  • Amino Acids, Branched-Chain
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ScoC protein, Bacillus subtilis
  • Transcription Factors