We constructed a sodA-disrupted mutant of Bacillus subtilis 168, BK1, by homologous recombination. The mutant was not able to grow in minimal medium without Mn(II). The spore-forming ability of strain BK1 was significantly lower in Mn(II)-depleted medium than that of the wild-type strain. These deleterious effects caused by the sodA mutation were reversed when an excess of Mn(II) was used to supplement the medium. Moreover, the growth inhibition by superoxide generators in strain BK1 and its parent strain was also reversed by the supplementation with excess Mn(II). We therefore estimated the Mn-dependent superoxide-scavenging activity in BK1 cells. Whereas BK1 cells have no detectable superoxide dismutase (Sod) on native gel, the superoxide-scavenging activity in crude extracts of BK1 cells grown in Mn(II)-supplemented LB medium (10 g of tryptone, 5 g of yeast extract, and 5 g of NaCl per liter) was significantly detected by the modified Sod assay method without using EDTA. The results obtained suggest that Mn, as a free ion or a complex with some cellular component, can catalyze the elimination of superoxide and that both SodA and Mn(II) are involved not only in the superoxide resistance of vegetative cells but also in sporulation
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