Switch protein alters specificity of RNA polymerase containing a compartment-specific sigma factor

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Science  27 Jan 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4890, pp. 526-529
DOI: 10.1126/science.2492118


During sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, expression of developmental genes spoIVCB and cotD is induced in the mother cell compartment of the sporangium at morphological stages IV and V, respectively. A 27-kilodalton RNA polymerase sigma factor called sigma K (or sigma 27) has been found that causes weak transcription of spoIVCB and strong transcription of cotD. A 14-kD protein was also discovered that changes the specificity of sigma K-containing RNA polymerase, greatly stimulating spoIVCB transcription and markedly repressing cotD transcription. Both sigma K and the 14-kD protein are products of genes known to be required for expression of specific genes in the mother cell. Thus, sigma K directs gene expression in the mother cell and it is proposed that inactivation or sequestering of the 14-kD protein switches the temporal pattern of gene expression during the transition from stages IV to V of development.

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