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Genome-wide mRNA profiling in glucose starved Bacillus subtilis cells


In this study global changes in gene expression were monitored in Bacillus subtilis cells entering stationary growth phase owing to starvation for glucose. Gene expression was analysed in growing and starving cells at different time points by full-genome mRNA profiling using DNA macroarrays. During the transition to stationary phase we observed extensive reprogramming of gene expression, with ~1000 genes being strongly repressed and ~900 strongly up-regulated in a time-dependent manner. The genes involved in the response to glucose starvation can be assigned to two main classes: (i) general stress/starvation genes which respond to various stress or starvation stimuli, and (ii) genes that respond specifically to starvation for glucose. The first class includes members of the σB-dependent general stress regulon, as well as 90 vegetative genes, which are strongly down regulated in the course of the stringent response. Among the genes in the second class, we observed a decrease in the expression of genes encoding proteins required for glucose uptake, glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Conversely, many carbohydrate utilisation systems that depend on phosphotransferase systems (PTS) or ABC transporters were activated. The expression of genes required for utilisation or generation of acetate indicates that acetate constitutes an important energy source for B. subtilis during periods of glucose starvation. Finally, genome wide mRNA profiling data can be used to predict new metabolic pathways in B. subtilis. Thus, our data suggest that glucose-starved cells are able to degrade branched-chain fatty acids to pyruvate and succinate via propionyl-CoA using the methylcitrate pathway. This pathway appears to link lipid degradation to gluconeogenesis in glucose-starved cells.

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J. Weibezahn and T. Koburger contributed equally to this work. This work was supported by grants from the BMBF (No. 031U107A), the DFG (No. HE1887/7-1) and the “Fonds der Chemischen Industrie” to M.H. We thank Colin Harwood and Jörg Stülke for critically reading the manuscript, and Stéphane Aymerich for providing data before publication. The work was carried out in compliance with the laws governing genetic experimentation in Germany

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Correspondence to Torsten Koburger.

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Communicated by A. Kondorosi

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Koburger, T., Weibezahn, J., Bernhardt, J. et al. Genome-wide mRNA profiling in glucose starved Bacillus subtilis cells. Mol Genet Genomics 274, 1–12 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00438-005-1119-8

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  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Transcription
  • Glucose starvation
  • Regulation
  • Metabolism