Effect of the replication mode of a plasmid on the stability of tandemly multimerized endoxylanase genes and a gene dose-dependent expression of the endoxylanase were studied in Bacillus subtilis. The structural genes encoding an endoxylanase, carrying its original promoter and ribosomal binding sequence, were tandemly multimerized and cloned into the Escherichia coli-B. subtilis shuttle plasmid, pJH27 Delta 88 or pMTL500(e), which has a rolling circle-replicon or a theta (theta)-replicon in B. subtilis, respectively. The cloned dimers in pJH27 Delta 88, which has a rolling circle-replicon, spontaneously rearranged to monomers in B. subtilis DB104, whereas those in pMTL500e, having a theta (theta)-replicon, were stably maintained. Expression level of the endoxylanase was proportional to the gene dosage in multimers. The endoxylanase activity in the supernatant increased from 80 U ml(-1) with pMTL-1x containing a monomer of the gene to 165 U ml(-1) with pMTL-4x containing a tetramer. These results indicate that high level expression of the endoxylanase gene can be obtained by tandemly multimerizing the genes in a plasmid with a theta (theta)-replicon. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.