Molecular and cytological analysis of the expression of Streptomyces sporulation regulatory gene whiH


Correspondence: Klas Flärdh, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 35, 22362 Lund, Sweden.Tel.: +46-46-2228584; fax: +46-46-2224113; e-mail:


The whiH gene is required for the orderly sporulation septation that divides aerial hyphae into spores in Streptomyces coelicolor. Here, we use a whiHp–mCherry transcriptional reporter construct to show that whiHp is active specifically in aerial hyphae, fluorescence being dependent on sporulation sigma factor WhiG. The results show that the promoter is active before the septation event that separates the subapical compartment from the tip compartment destined to become a spore chain. We conclude that WhiG-directed RNA polymerase activity, which is required for whiH transcription, must precede this septation event and is not restricted to apical sporogenic compartment of the aerial hyphae. Further, it is demonstrated that WhiH, a predicted member of the GntR family of transcription factors, is able to bind specifically to a sequence in its own promoter, strongly suggesting that it acts as an autoregulatory transcription factor. Finally, we show by site-directed mutagenesis and a genetic complementation test that whiH is translated from a start codon overlapping with the previously identified transcription start point, implying leaderless transcription.