The previously reported nucleotide sequence of the spoOA coding region of Bacillus subtilis suggested that the protein is initiated with either of two possible initiation codons, ATG and GTG, 84 base pairs apart. To determine which codon is utilized as an initiator in B. subtilis, we constructed a fusion gene in which the promoter and NH2-terminal region of the spoOA gene was connected to the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene (cat gene). After introduction of the plasmid carrying the spoOA-cat fusion gene into B. subtilis cells, the fusion protein was purified by affinity chromatography. The sequence of NH2-terminal amino acids of the fusion protein was determined and the result established that the GTG codon is utilized as an initiator in B. subtilis. Comparison of the amino acid sequences revealed a marked homology between the spoOA (NH2-terminal half) and spoOF proteins. A less striking but significant homology was also found between the spoOA (COOH-terminal half) and spoOB proteins. This suggests the presence of a common functional domain structure for these proteins that are supposed to play key regulatory roles in sporulation.
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