Novel mutations that alter the regulation of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis. Evidence that phosphorylation of regulatory protein SpoOA controls the initiation of sporulation.
Sporulation in Bacillus subtilis is a complex developmental process that occurs in response to nutrient deprivation. To identify components of the mechanism that allows cells to monitor their nutritional status and to understand how this sensory information is transduced into a signal to activate specific sporulation genes, we have isolated mutants that are able to sporulate efficiently under nutritional conditions that strongly inhibit sporulation in wild-type bacteria, a phenotype we refer to as Coi (control of initiation). Four coi mutations were found to be within the coding sequence of spoOA, a gene in which null mutations prevent the initiation of sporulation and a gene whose product shares a domain of homology with phosphorylation-activated proteins that play signal transduction roles in bacteria. All four of the spoOA mutations were within this conserved domain and in close proximity to the presumptive phosphoacceptor site. The wild-type and one of the mutant SpoOA proteins were purified and shown to be competent to accept phosphoryl groups from a phosphohistidine within a bacterial signal transduction kinase (CheA). The mutant SpoOA protein exhibited enhanced phosphoacceptor activity compared with the wild-type. This property of the mutant protein, together with additional genetic information, supports a model for regulation of sporulation initiation by control of the phosphorylation level of SpoOA.
Olmedo, G; Ninfa, EG; Stock, J; Youngman, P
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