Identification of target promoters for the Bacillus subtilis sigma X factor using a consensus-directed search

J Mol Biol. 1998 May 29;279(1):165-73. doi: 10.1006/jmbi.1998.1765.


The promoter selectivity of RNA polymerase (RNAP) can be altered by the association with alternative sigma subunits. Bacillus subtilis hosts a multitude of sigma factors, several of which coordinate the complex developmental program culminating in endospore formation. Genome sequencing has revealed an unanticipated seven new sigma factors of the highly divergent extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sub-family. Virtually nothing is known regarding either the promoter selectivity or the target genes for these newly identified sigma factors. We have used saturation mutagenesis to define a promoter consensus for recognition by one such ECF sigma factor, sigma X. The resulting consensus sequence was used to identify candidate sigma X target sites. Three newly identified sigma X-dependent promoters precede genes encoding regulatory proteins: an AbrB homolog (Abh), a putative response regulator aspartate phosphatase (RapD), and a regulator of autolysin expression (LytR). sigma X also contributes to the expression of CsbB, a putative membrane-bound glucosyl transferase that is partially controlled by the sigma B stress response sigma factor. Since LytR modulates the expression of the major autolytic amidase and CsbB may function in peptidoglycan synthesis or modification, we suggest that sigma X participates in the regulation of peptidoglycan synthesis and turnover.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Mutation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Sigma Factor