Determination of the sequence of spaE and identification of a promoter in the subtilin (spa) operon in Bacillus subtilis.
An 851-residue open reading frame (ORF) called SpaE has been discovered in the subtilin (spa) operon. Interruption of this ORF with a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene destroys the ability of Bacillus subtilis LH45 delta c (a derivative of B. subtilis 168) to produce subtilin, which is an antimicrobial peptide belonging to the class of ribosomally synthesized peptide antibiotics called lantibiotics. SpaE shows strong homology to NisB, which is in the nisin (nis) operon in Lactococcus lactis ATCC 11454. Despite the strong sequence homology between SpaE and NisB, the spaE and nisB genes occupy very different locations in their respective operons, indicating that they have been evolving separately for a long time. Primer extension analysis was employed to identify a promoter upstream from the spaE gene, which appears to define the 5' end of the spa operon, which contains four other ORFs (Y. J. Chung, M. T. Steen, and J. N. Hansen, J. Bacteriol. 174:1417-1422, 1992).