Here, the role of σM and its regulon in stress response and survival of B. cereus ATCC 14579 was assessed by comparative transciptome and phenotypic analysis of this strain and its sigM deletion strain. Exposure of B. cereus ATCC 14579 to a wide range of stresses revealed expression of sigM, encoding σM, to be up-regulated mainly in the presence of ethanol and after alkaline pH-shock. Next to this, disc diffusion tests showed the sigM deletion strain to be more sensitive to oxidizing agents and to be more resistant to cell-wall targeting antibiotics than the wild-type strain. The σM regulon was subsequently determined by comparative transcriptional analyses of the wild-type and its sigM-deletion strain after exposure to ethanol. The putative σM-regulon was shown to consist of 29 genes, several of these genes are predicted to be involved in counteracting oxidative stress, such as an NADH oxidase, a ferredoxin, and a lysine decarboxylase or could encode enzymes involved in methionine metabolism, leading toward L-cysteine production, including luxS. Screening of promoter upstream regions allowed for the assessment of a B. cereus consensus promoter binding site for σM. Since the consensus promoter binding site for B. cereus ATCC 14579 σM, its regulon and the predicted functionalities are different from the corresponding features in B. subtilis, it can be concluded that σM plays a unique role in B. cereus stress response and survival.
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