During the development of transformability (competence), Bacillus subtilis synthesizes a set of proteins that mediate both the uptake of DNA at the cell poles and the recombination of this DNA with the resident chromosome. Most, if not all, of these Com proteins localize to the poles of the cell, where they associate with one another, and are then seen to delocalize as transformability declines. In this study, we use fluorescence microscopy to analyse the localization and delocalization processes. We show that localization most likely occurs by a diffusion-capture mechanism, not requiring metabolic energy, whereas delocalization is prevented in the presence of sodium azide. The kinetics of localization suggest that this process requires the synthesis of a critical protein or set of proteins, which are needed to anchor the Com protein complex to the poles. We further show that the protein kinase proteins McsA and McsB are needed for delocalization, as are ClpP and either of the AAA + (ATPases associated with a variety of cellular activities) proteins ClpC or ClpE. Of these proteins, at least McsB, ClpC and ClpP localize to the cell poles of competent cells. Our evidence strongly suggests that delocalization depends on the degradation of the postulated anchor protein(s) by the McsA-McsB-(ClpC or ClpE)-ClpP protease in an ATP-dependent process that involves the autophosphorylation of McsB. The extent of cell-pole association at any given time reflects the relative rates of localization and delocalization. The kinetics of this dynamic process differs for individual Com proteins, with the DNA-binding proteins SsbB and DprA exhibiting less net localization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology