The divIVB region of the Bacillus subtilis chromosome encodes homologs of Escherichia coli septum placement (MinCD) and cell shape (MreBCD) determinants

A. W. Varley, G. C. Stewart

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Mutation of the divIVB locus in Bacillus subtilis causes frequent misplacement of the division septum, resulting in circular minicells, short rods, and filaments of various sizes. The divIVB1 mutant allele maps to a region of the chromosome also known to encode sporulation (spo0B, spoIVF, spoIIB) and cell shape (rodB) determinants. This study reports the cloning and sequence analysis of 4.4 kb of the B. subtilis chromosome encompassing the divIVB locus. This region contains five open reading frames (ORFs) arranged in two functionally distinct gene clusters (mre and min) and transcribed colinearly with the direction of replication. Although sequence analysis reveals potential promoters preceding each gene cluster, studies with integrational plasmids suggest that all five ORFs are part of a single transcription unit. The first gene cluster contains three ORFs (mreBCD) homologous to the mre genes of Escherichia coli. We show that rodB1 is allelic to mreD and identify the rodB1 mutation. The second gene cluster contains two ORFs (minCD) homologous to minC and minD of E. coli but lacks a minE homolog. We show that divIVB1 is allelic to minD and identify two mutations in the divIVB1 allele. Insertional inactivation of either minC or minD or the presence of the divIVB region on plasmids produces a severe minicell phenotype in wild-type cells. Moreover, E. coli cells carrying the divIVB region on a low-copy-number plasmid produce minicells, suggesting that a product of this locus may retain some function across species boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6729-6742
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Immunology

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