Characterization of an lrp-like (IrpC ) gene from Bacillus subtilis
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In the course of the Bacillus subtilis genome sequencing project, we identified an open reading frame encoding a putative 16.4 kDa protein. This protein shows, respectively, 34% and 25% identity with the Escherichia coli regulatory proteins Lrp and AsnC. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that it represents a new group in the AsnC-Lrp family. Sequence comparisons, as well as immunodetection experiments, lead to the conclusion that the product of this B. subtilislrp-likegene is a bona fide Lrp protein – the first one to be detected in gram-positive bacteria. When expressed in E.␣coli, the B. subtilis Lrp-like protein is able to repress, by about two-fold, the expression of the ilvIH operon which is normally regulated by E. coli Lrp, indicating functional similarity in their regulatory targets. Vegetative growth of a B. subtilis lrp-like mutant is not affected in rich medium. However, the lrp-like mutation causes a transitory inhibition of growth in minimal medium in the presence of valine and isoleucine, which is relieved by leucine. This points to a possible role in regulation of amino acid metabolism. In addition, sporogenesis occurs earlier in the lrp-like mutant than in the reference strain, implying that the B. subtilis Lrp-like protein plays a role in the growth phase transition.
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