Journal of bacteriology

The transcription factor AlsR binds and regulates the promoter of the alsSD operon responsible for acetoin formation in Bacillus subtilis.

PMID 22178965


Bacillus subtilis forms acetoin under anaerobic fermentative growth conditions and as a product of the aerobic carbon overflow metabolism. Acetoin formation from pyruvate requires α-acetolactate synthase and acetolactate decarboxylase, both encoded by the alsSD operon. The alsR gene, encoding the LysR-type transcriptional regulator AlsR, was found to be essential for the in vivo expression of alsSD in response to anaerobic acetate accumulation, the addition of acetate, low pH, and the aerobic stationary phase. The expressions of the alsSD operon and the alsR regulatory gene were independent of other regulators of the anaerobic regulatory network, including ResDE, Fnr, and ArfM. A negative autoregulation of alsR was observed. In vitro transcription from the alsSD promoter using purified B. subtilis RNA polymerase required AlsR. DNA binding studies with purified recombinant AlsR in combination with promoter mutagenesis experiments identified a 19-bp high-affinity palindromic binding site (TAAT-N(11)-ATTA) at positions -76 to -58 (regulatory binding site [RBS]) and a low-affinity site (AT-N(11)-AT) at positions -41 to -27 (activator binding site [ABS]) upstream of the transcriptional start site of alsSD. The RBS and ABS were found to be essential for in vivo alsSD transcription. AlsR binding to both sites induced the formation of higher-order, transcription-competent complexes. The AlsR protein carrying the S100A substitution at the potential coinducer binding site still bound to the RBS and ABS. However, AlsR(S100A) failed to form the higher-order complex and to initiate in vivo and in vitro transcription. A model for AlsR promoter binding and transcriptional activation was deduced.