Localization and Interactions of Teichoic Acid Synthetic Enzymes in Bacillus subtilis

Alex Formstone, Rut Carballido-López, Philippe Noirot, Jeffery Errington, Dirk-Jan Scheffers

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The thick wall of gram-positive bacteria is a polymer meshwork composed predominantly of peptidoglycan (PG) and teichoic acids, both of which have a critical function in maintenance of the structural integrity and the shape of the cell. In Bacillus subtilis 168 the major teichoic acid is covalently coupled to PG and is known as wall teichoic acid (WTA). Recently, PG insertion/degradation over the lateral wall has been shown to occur in a helical pattern. However, the spatial organization of WTA assembly and its relationship with cell shape and PG assembly are largely unknown. We have characterized the localization of green fluorescent protein fusions to proteins involved in several steps of WTA synthesis in B. subtilis: TagB, -F, -G, -H, and -O. All of these localized similarly to the inner side of the cytoplasmic membrane, in a pattern strikingly similar to that displayed by probes of nascent PG. Helix-like localization patterns are often attributable to the morphogenic cytoskeletal proteins of the MreB family. However, localization of the Tag proteins did not appear to be substantially affected by single disruption of any of the three MreB homologues of B. subtilis. Bacterial and yeast two-hybrid experiments revealed a complex network of interactions involving TagA, -B, -E, -F, -G, -H, and -O and the cell shape determinants MreC and MreD (encoded by the mreBCD operon and presumably involved in the spatial organization of PG synthesis). Taken together, our results suggest that, in B. subtilis at least, the synthesis and export of WTA precursors are mediated by a large multienzyme complex that may be associated with the PG-synthesizing machinery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1812-1821
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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