DegU‐phosphate activates expression of the anti‐sigma factor FlgM in Bacillus subtilis

Yi Huang Hsueh, Loralyn M. Cozy, Lok To Sham, Rebecca A. Calvo, Alina D. Gutu, Malcolm E. Winkler, Daniel B. Kearns

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


The bacterial flagellum is a complex molecular machine that is made up of over forty proteins and is rotated to propel cells either through liquids or over solid surfaces. Flagellar gene expression is extensively regulated to coordinate flagellar assembly in both space and time. In Bacillus subtilis , the proteins of unknown function, SwrA and SwrB, and the alternative sigma factor σD are required to activate expression of the flagellar filament protein, flagellin. Here we determine that in the absence of SwrA and SwrB, the phosphorylated form of the response regulator DegU inhibits σD-dependent gene expression indirectly by binding to the PflgM promoter region and activating expression of the anti-sigma factor FlgM. We further demonstrate that DegU-P-dependent activation of FlgM is essential to inhibit flagellin expression when flagellar basal body assembly is disrupted. Regulation of FlgM is poorly understood outside of Salmonella , and differential control of FlgM expression may be a common means of coupling flagellin expression to flagellar assembly.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalMolecular Microbiology
StatePublished - Jan 8 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • SigD
  • bistability
  • motility
  • flagella
  • SwrA


  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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