Lysis genes of the Bacillus subtilis defective prophage PBSX

J Bacteriol. 1998 Apr;180(8):2110-7. doi: 10.1128/JB.180.8.2110-2117.1998.


Four genes identified within the late operon of PBSX show characteristics expected of a host cell lysis system; they are xepA, encoding an exported protein; xhlA, encoding a putative membrane-associated protein; xhlB, encoding a putative holin; and xlyA, encoding a putative endolysin. In this work, we have assessed the contribution of each gene to host cell lysis by expressing the four genes in different combinations under the control of their natural promoter located on the chromosome of Bacillus subtilis 168. The results show that xepA is unlikely to be involved in host cell lysis. Expression of both xhlA and xhlB is necessary to effect host cell lysis of B. subtilis. Expression of xhlB (encoding the putative holin) together with xlyA (encoding the endolysin) cannot effect cell lysis, indicating that the PBSX lysis system differs from those identified in the phages of gram-negative bacteria. Since host cell lysis can be achieved when xlyA is inactivated, it is probable that PBSX encodes a second endolysin activity which also uses XhlA and XhlB for export from the cell. The chromosome-based expression system developed in this study to investigate the functions of the PBSX lysis genes should be a valuable tool for the analysis of other host cell lysis systems and for expression and functional analysis of other lethal gene products in gram-positive bacteria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus Phages / genetics*
  • Bacillus Phages / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / virology*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial
  • Defective Viruses / genetics*
  • Defective Viruses / growth & development
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Lethal
  • Genes, Viral*
  • Kinetics
  • Operon
  • Plasmids
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Viral Proteins