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J Bacteriol. 2004 Feb;186(4):1110-9.

Interactions among CotB, CotG, and CotH during assembly of the Bacillus subtilis spore coat.

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  • 1Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2781-901 Oeiras Codex, Portugal.


Spores formed by wild-type Bacillus subtilis are encased in a multilayered protein structure (called the coat) formed by the ordered assembly of over 30 polypeptides. One polypeptide (CotB) is a surface-exposed coat component that has been used as a vehicle for the display of heterologous antigens at the spore surface. The cotB gene was initially identified by reverse genetics as encoding an abundant coat component. cotB is predicted to code for a 43-kDa polypeptide, but the form that prevails in the spore coat has a molecular mass of about 66 kDa (herein designated CotB-66). Here we show that in good agreement with its predicted size, expression of cotB in Escherichia coli results in the accumulation of a 46-kDa protein (CotB-46). Expression of cotB in sporulating cells of B. subtilis also results in a 46-kDa polypeptide which appears to be rapidly converted into CotB-66. These results suggest that soon after synthesis, CotB undergoes a posttranslational modification. Assembly of CotB-66 has been shown to depend on expression of both the cotH and cotG loci. We found that CotB-46 is the predominant form found in extracts prepared from sporulating cells or in spore coat preparations of cotH or cotG mutants. Therefore, both cotH and cotG are required for the efficient conversion of CotB-46 into CotB-66 but are dispensable for the association of CotB-46 with the spore coat. We also show that CotG does not accumulate in sporulating cells of a cotH mutant, suggesting that CotH (or a CotH-controlled factor) stabilizes the otherwise unstable CotG. Thus, the need for CotH for formation of CotB-66 results in part from its role in the stabilization of CotG. We also found that CotB-46 is present in complexes with CotG at the time when formation of CotB-66 is detected. Moreover, using a yeast two-hybrid system, we found evidence that CotB directly interacts with CotG and that both CotB and CotG self-interact. We suggest that an interaction between CotG and CotB is required for the formation of CotB-66, which may represent a multimeric form of CotB.

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