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Free Content Chromosomal organization governs the timing of cell type-specific gene expression required for spore formation in Bacillus subtilis

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During the early stages of spore formation in Bacillus subtilis, asymmetric division precedes chromosome segregation, such that the forespore transiently contains only about one-third of the genetic material surrounding the origin of replication. Shortly after septum formation, the transcription factor σF initiates forespore-specific gene expression that is essential for the proteolytic activation of pro-σE in the neighbouring mother cell. Moving the σF-dependent spoIIR gene from its original origin-proximal position to an ectopic origin-distal site caused a delay in spoIIR transcription, as well as delays and reductions in the proteolytic activation of pro-σE and σE-directed gene expression. These defects correlated with the accumulation of disporic sporangia, thus reducing sporulation efficiency in a manner that depended upon the distance that spoIIR had been moved from the origin-proximal third of the chromosome. A significant proportion of disporic sporangia exhibited σE activity in their central compartment, indicating that delays and reductions in σE activation can lead to the formation of a second septum at the opposite pole. These observations support a model in which chromosomal spoIIR position temporally regulates σE activation, thereby allowing for the rapid establishment of mother cell-specific gene expression that is essential for efficient spore formation. The implications of these findings for cell type-specific gene expression during the early stages of spore formation in B. subtilis are discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Plant and Microbial Biology, and 2: Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, 111 Koshland Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-3102, USA.

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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