The alternative sigma factor B has an important role in the acquisition of stress resistance in many gram-positive bacteria, including the food-borne pathogen Bacillus cereus. Here, we describe the identification of the set of B-regulated genes in B. cereus by DNA microarray analysis of the transcriptome upon a mild heat shock. Twenty-four genes could be identified as being B dependent as witnessed by (i) significantly lower expression levels of these genes in mutants with a deletion of sigB and rsbY (which encode the alternative sigma factor B and a crucial positive regulator of B activity, respectively) than in the parental strain B. cereus ATCC 14579 and (ii) increased expression of these genes upon a heat shock. Newly identified B-dependent genes in B. cereus include a histidine kinase and two genes that have predicted functions in spore germination. This study shows that the B regulon of B. cereus is considerably smaller than that of other gram-positive bacteria. This appears to be in line with phylogenetic analyses where B of the B. cereus group was placed close to the ancestral form of B in gram-positive bacteria. The data described in this study and previous studies in which the complete B regulon of the gram-positive bacteria Bacillus subtilis, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus were determined enabled a comparison of the sets of B-regulated genes in the different gram-positive bacteria. This showed that only three genes (rsbV, rsbW, and sigB) are conserved in their B dependency in all four bacteria, suggesting that the B regulon of the different gram-positive bacteria has evolved to perform niche-specific functions.
- subtilis spores