A multicomponent protein complex mediates environmental stress signaling in Bacillus subtilis

Journal of Molecular Biology
Tae-Jong KimChester W Price


Activity of the general stress transcription factor sigma(B) of Bacillus subtilis is regulated directly by a partner-switching mechanism in which key protein interactions are governed by serine phosphorylation. Signals of energy or environmental stress are conveyed to sigma(B) by independent pathways, each terminating with a differentially regulated serine phosphatase, whose activity is required to control the partner-switching regulators. We present genetic and biochemical evidence that activation of the RsbU environmental signaling phosphatase is modulated by a second, atypical partner switch that comprises redundant negative regulatory proteins in a large, multicomponent signaling complex. In the current model, negative regulation of the RsbU phosphatase depends solely on the RsbS antagonist protein. Here, we perform a critical genetic test that invalidates this model and demonstrates that the RsbS antagonist alone is insufficient to prevent environmental signaling. Also required is one of a family of four co-antagonist proteins, here renamed RsbRA, RsbRB, RsbRC, and RsbRD, each with a carboxyl-terminal domain closely resembling the entire RsbS protein. Because any single member of the RsbR family, together with RsbS, was su...Continue Reading


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