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The Conserved DNA-Binding Protein WhiA Is Involved in Cell Division in Bacillus subtilis

Lookup NU author(s): Katarina Surdova, Dr Pamela Gamba, Dr Dennis Claessen, Professor Jeff Errington FRSORCiD, Dr Leendert Hamoen


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Bacterial cell division is a highly coordinated process that begins with the polymerization of the tubulin-like protein FtsZ at midcell. FtsZ polymerization is regulated by a set of conserved cell division proteins, including ZapA. However, a zapA mutation does not result in a clear phenotype in Bacillus subtilis. In this study, we used a synthetic-lethal screen to find genes that become essential when ZapA is mutated. Three transposon insertions were found in yvcL. The deletion of yvcL in a wild-type background had only a mild effect on growth, but a yvcL zapA double mutant is very filamentous and sick. This filamentation is caused by a strong reduction in FtsZ-ring assembly, suggesting that YvcL is involved in an early stage of cell division. YvcL is 25% identical and 50% similar to the Streptomyces coelicolor transcription factor WhiA, which induces ftsZ and is required for septation of aerial hyphae during sporulation. Using green fluorescent protein fusions, we show that YvcL localizes at the nucleoid. Surprisingly, transcriptome analyses in combination with a ChIP-on-chip assay gave no indication that YvcL functions as a transcription factor. To gain more insight into the function of YvcL, we searched for suppressors of the filamentous phenotype of a yvcL zapA double mutant. Transposon insertions in gtaB and pgcA restored normal cell division of the double mutant. The corresponding proteins have been implicated in the metabolic sensing of cell division. We conclude that YvcL (WhiA) is involved in cell division in B. subtilis through an as-yet-unknown mechanism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Surdova K, Gamba P, Claessen D, Siersma T, Jonker MJ, Errington J, Hamoen LW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Year: 2013

Volume: 195

Issue: 24

Pages: 5450-5460

Print publication date: 01/12/2013

ISSN (print): 0021-9193

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5530

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/JB.00507-13


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Funder referenceFunder name
Marie Curie ITN EST grant ATPBCT
12128STW Vici grant