Differentiation of Function among the RsbR Paralogs in the General Stress Response of Bacillus subtilis with Regard to Light Perception

Jeroen B. Van der Steen, Marcela Avila-Perez, Doreen Knippert, Angie Vreugdenhil, Pascal van Alphen, Klaas J. Hellingwerf*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The general stress response of Bacillus subtilis can be activated by a wide range of signals, including low intensities of visible light. It is regulated by a dedicated ? factor via a complex signal transduction pathway that makes use of stressosomes: hetero-oligomeric complexes that include one or more of the RsbR proteins (RsbRA, RsbRB, RsbRC, and RsbRD). The response to blue light is mediated by the photoreceptor YtvA. We show here which of the four RsbR proteins are necessary for the activation of the ?(B) response by blue light. Experiments performed with single-, double-, and triple-deletion strains in the rsbR genes show that RsbRB and RsbRA function antagonistically, with the former being a negative regulator and the latter a positive regulator of the YtvA-dependent light activation of the stress response. A strain with RsbRB as the only RsbR protein is unable to respond to light-activation of ?(B). Furthermore, RsbRC and RsbRD can replace RsbRA's function only in the absence of RsbRB. This differentiation of function is confined to light stress, since strains with RsbRA or RsbRB as the only RsbR protein behave similarly in our experimental conditions in response to physicochemical stresses. Interestingly, RsbRB's absence is sufficient to result in light activation of the general stress response at wild-type expression levels of ytvA, while it was previously reported that YtvA could only activate ?(B) when overproduced, or when cells are supplemented with an additional environmental stress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1708-1716
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

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