The yjbG gene encoding the homologue of the PepF1 and PepF2 oligoendopeptidases of Lactococcus lactis (Monnet et al., J. Biol. Chem. 269:32070-32076, 1994; Nardi et al., J. Bacteriol. 179:4164-4171, 1997) has been identified in Bacillus subtilis as an inhibitor of sporulation initiation when present in the cells on a multicopy plasmid. Genetic analysis suggested that the inhibitory effect is due to hydrolysis of the PhrA peptide in a form as small as the pentapeptide (ARNQT). Inactivation of PhrA results in deregulation of the RapA phosphatase and thus dephosphorylation of the Spo0F approximately P response regulator component of the phosphorelay for sporulation initiation. When overexpressed, the B. subtilis PepF is most likely hydrolyzing additional peptides of the Phr family, as is the case for PhrC involved in control of competence development. Chromosomal inactivation of the yjbG/pepF gene did not give rise to any detectable phenotype. The function of PepF in B. subtilis remains unknown. Limited experiments with a yjbG paralogue called yusX indicated that a frameshift is present, making the corresponding gene product inactive.