Global analysis of the Bacillus subtilis Fur regulon and the iron starvation stimulon



The Bacillus subtilis ferric uptake repressor (Fur) protein coordinates a global transcriptional response to iron starvation. We have used DNA microarrays to define the Fur regulon and the iron starvation stimulon. We identify 20 operons (containing 39 genes) that are derepressed both by mutation of fur and by treatment of cells with the iron chelator 2,2′-dipyridyl. These operons are direct targets of Fur regulation as judged by DNase I footprinting. Analyses of lacZ reporter fusions to six Fur-regulated promoter regions reveal that repression is highly selective for iron. In addition to the Fur regulon, iron starvation induces members of the PerR regulon and leads to reduced expression of cytochromes. However, we did not find any evidence for genes that are directly activated by Fur or repressed by Fur under iron-limiting conditions. Although genome searches using the 19 bp Fur box consensus are useful in identifying candidate Fur-regulated genes, some genes associated with Fur boxes are not demonstrably regulated by Fur, whereas other genes are regulated from sites with little apparent similarity to the conventional Fur consensus.