Transcriptional regulation of genes encoding arabinan-degrading enzymes in Bacillus subtilis

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Bacillus subtilis produces hemicellulases capable of releasing arabinosyl oligomers and arabinose from plant cell walls. In this work, we characterize the transcriptional regulation of three genes encoding arabinan-degrading enzymes that are clustered with genes encoding enzymes that further catabolize arabinose. The abfA gene comprised in the metabolic operon araABDLMNPQ-abfA and the xsa gene located 23 kb downstream most probably encode alpha-L-arabinofuranosidases (EC Here, we show that the abnA gene, positioned immediately upstream from the metabolic operon, encodes an endo-alpha-1,5-arabinanase (EC Furthermore, by in vivo RNA studies, we inferred that abnA and xsa are monocistronic and are transcribed from sigma(A)-like promoters. Transcriptional fusion analysis revealed that the expression of the three arabinases is induced by arabinose and arabinan and is repressed by glucose. The levels of induction by arabinose and arabinan are higher during early postexponential growth, suggesting a temporal regulation. Moreover, the induction mechanism of these genes is mediated through negative control by the key regulator of arabinose metabolism, AraR. Thus, we analyzed AraR-DNA interactions by in vitro quantitative DNase I footprinting and in vivo analysis of single-base-pair substitutions within the promoter regions of xsa and abnA. The results indicate that transcriptional repression of the abfA and xsa genes is achieved by a tightly controlled mechanism but that the regulation of abnA is more flexible. We suggest that the expression of genes encoding extracellular degrading enzymes of arabinose-containing polysaccharides, transport systems, and intracellular enzymes involved in further catabolism is regulated by a coordinate mechanism triggered by arabinose via AraR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-96
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • AraC Transcription Factor
  • Arabinose
  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Base Sequence
  • Culture Media
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Bacterial
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polysaccharides
  • Repressor Proteins


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