In Bacillus subtilis cells, the GTP level decreases and the ATP level increases upon a stringent response. This reciprocal change in the concentrations of the substrates of RNA polymerase affects the rate of transcription initiation of certain stringent genes depending on the purine species at their transcription initiation sites. DNA microarray analysis suggested that not only the rrn and ilv-leu genes encoding rRNAs and the enzymes for synthesis of branched-chain amino acids, respectively, but also many genes, including genes involved in glucose and pyruvate metabolism, might be subject to this kind of stringent transcription control. Actually, the ptsGHI and pdhABCD operons encoding the glucose-specific phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system and the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex were found to be negatively regulated, like rrn, whereas the pycA gene encoding pyruvate carboxylase and the alsSD operon for synthesis of acetoin from pyruvate were positively regulated, like ilv-leu. Replacement of the guanine at position 1 and/or position 2 of ptsGHI and at position 1 of pdhABCD (transcription initiation base at position 1) by adenine changed the negative stringent control of these operons in the positive direction. The initiation bases for transcription of pdhABCD and pycA were newly determined. Then the promoter sequences of these stringent operons were aligned, and the results suggested that the presence of a guanine(s) and the presence of an adenine(s) at position 1 and/or position 2 might be indispensable for negative and positive stringent control, respectively. Such stringent transcription control that affects the transcription initiation rate through reciprocal changes in the GTP and ATP levels likely occurs for numerous genes of B. subtilis.
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