Applied and environmental microbiology

Production and secretion stress caused by overexpression of heterologous alpha-amylase leads to inhibition of sporulation and a prolonged motile phase in Bacillus subtilis.

PMID 17586671


Transcriptome analysis was used to investigate the global stress response of the gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis caused by overproduction of the well-secreted AmyQ alpha-amylase from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. Analyses of the control and overproducing strains were carried out at the end of exponential growth and in stationary phase, when protein secretion from B. subtilis is optimal. Among the genes that showed increased expression were htrA and htrB, which are part of the CssRS regulon, which responds to high-level protein secretion and heat stress. The analysis of the transcriptome profiles of a cssS mutant compared to the wild type, under identical secretion stress conditions, revealed several genes with altered transcription in a CssRS-dependent manner, for example, citM, ylxF, yloA, ykoJ, and several genes of the flgB operon. However, high-affinity CssR binding was observed only for htrA, htrB, and, possibly, citM. In addition, the DNA macroarray approach revealed that several genes of the sporulation pathway are downregulated by AmyQ overexpression and that a group of motility-specific (sigmaD-dependent) transcripts were clearly upregulated. Subsequent flow-cytometric analyses demonstrate that, upon overproduction of AmyQ as well as of a nonsecretable variant of the alpha-amylase, the process of sporulation is severely inhibited. Similar experiments were performed to investigate the expression levels of the hag promoter, a well-established reporter for sigmaD-dependent gene expression. This approach confirmed the observations based on our DNA macroarray analyses and led us to conclude that expression levels of several genes involved in motility are maintained at high levels under all conditions of alpha-amylase overproduction.

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