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J Bacteriol. 2001 Oct;183(20):6046-53.

Two class A high-molecular-weight penicillin-binding proteins of Bacillus subtilis play redundant roles in sporulation.

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Department of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA.


The four class A penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) of Bacillus subtilis appear to play functionally redundant roles in polymerizing the peptidoglycan (PG) strands of the vegetative-cell and spore walls. The ywhE product was shown to bind penicillin, so the gene and gene product were renamed pbpG and PBP2d, respectively. Construction of mutant strains lacking multiple class A PBPs revealed that, while PBP2d plays no obvious role in vegetative-wall synthesis, it does play a role in spore PG synthesis. A pbpG null mutant produced spore PG structurally similar to that of the wild type; however, electron microscopy revealed that in a significant number of these spores the PG did not completely surround the spore core. In a pbpF pbpG double mutant this spore PG defect was apparent in every spore produced, indicating that these two gene products play partially redundant roles. A normal amount of spore PG was produced in the double mutant, but it was frequently produced in large masses on either side of the forespore. The double-mutant spore PG had structural alterations indicative of improper cortex PG synthesis, including twofold decreases in production of muramic delta-lactam and L-alanine side chains and a slight increase in cross-linking. Sporulation gene expression in the pbpF pbpG double mutant was normal, but the double-mutant spores failed to reach dormancy and subsequently degraded their spore PG. We suggest that these two forespore-synthesized PBPs are required for synthesis of the spore germ cell wall, the first layer of spore PG synthesized on the surface of the inner forespore membrane, and that in the absence of the germ cell wall the cells lack a template needed for proper synthesis of the spore cortex, the outer layers of spore PG, by proteins on the outer forespore membrane.

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