Oxidative stress in Bacillus subtilis results in the accumulation of Spx protein, which exerts both positive and negative transcriptional control over a genome-wide scale through its interaction with the RNA polymerase α subunit. Previous microarray transcriptome studies uncovered a unique class of genes that are controlled by Spx-RNA polymerase interaction under normal growth conditions that do not promote Spx overproduction. These genes were repressed by Spx when sulfate was present as a sole sulfur source. The genes include those of the ytmI, yxeI, and ssu operons, which encode products resembling proteins that function in the uptake and desulfurization of organic sulfur compounds. Primer extension and analysis of operon-lacZ fusion expression revealed that the operons are repressed by sulfate and cysteine; however, Spx functioned only in sulfate-dependent repression. Both the ytmI operon and the divergently transcribed ytlI, encoding a LysR-type regulator that positively controls ytmI operon transcription, are repressed by Spx in sulfate-containing media. The CXXC motif of Spx, which is necessary for redox sensitive control of Spx activity in response to oxidative stress, is not required for sulfate-dependent repression. The yxeL-lacZ and ssu-lacZ fusions were also repressed in an Spx-dependent manner in media containing sulfate as the sole sulfur source. This work uncovers a new role for Spx in the control of sulfur metabolism in a gram-positive bacterium under nonstressful growth conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology