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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Jul;65(1):180-200.

The essential YycFG two-component system controls cell wall metabolism in Bacillus subtilis.

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Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Adaptation of bacteria to the prevailing environmental and nutritional conditions is often mediated by two-component signal transduction systems (TCS). The Bacillus subtilis YycFG TCS has attracted special attention as it is essential for viability and its regulon is poorly defined. Here we show that YycFG is a regulator of cell wall metabolism. We have identified five new members of the YycFG regulon: YycF activates expression of yvcE, lytE and ydjM and represses expression of yoeB and yjeA. YvcE(CwlO) and LytE encode endopeptidase-type autolysins that participate in peptidoglycan synthesis and turnover respectively. We show that a yvcE lytE double mutant strain is not viable and that cells lacking LytE and depleted for YvcE exhibit defects in lateral cell wall synthesis and cell elongation. YjeA encodes a peptidoglycan deacetylase that modifies peptidoglycan thereby altering its susceptibility to lysozyme digestion and YdjM is also predicted to have a role in cell wall metabolism. A genetic analysis shows that YycFG essentiality is polygenic in nature, being a manifestation of disrupted cell wall metabolism caused by aberrant expression of a number of YycFG regulon genes.

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