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J Bacteriol. 2010 Jan;192(1):242-55. doi: 10.1128/JB.01244-09.

Discovery and characterization of three new Escherichia coli septal ring proteins that contain a SPOR domain: DamX, DedD, and RlpA.

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Department of Microbiology, Carver College of Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


SPOR domains are approximately 70 amino acids long and occur in >1,500 proteins identified by sequencing of bacterial genomes. The SPOR domains in the FtsN cell division proteins from Escherichia coli and Caulobacter crescentus have been shown to bind peptidoglycan. Besides FtsN, E. coli has three additional SPOR domain proteins--DamX, DedD, and RlpA. We show here that all three of these proteins localize to the septal ring in E. coli. The loss of DamX or DedD either alone or in combination with mutations in genes encoding other division proteins resulted in a variety of division phenotypes, demonstrating that DamX and DedD participate in cytokinesis. In contrast, RlpA mutants divided normally. Follow-up studies revealed that the SPOR domains themselves localize to the septal ring in vivo and bind peptidoglycan in vitro. Even SPOR domains from heterologous organisms, including Aquifex aeolicus, localized to septal rings when produced in E. coli and bound to purified E. coli peptidoglycan sacculi. We speculate that SPOR domains localize to the division site by binding preferentially to septal peptidoglycan. We further suggest that SPOR domain proteins are a common feature of the division apparatus in bacteria. DamX was characterized further and found to interact with multiple division proteins in a bacterial two-hybrid assay. One interaction partner is FtsQ, and several synthetic phenotypes suggest that DamX is a negative regulator of FtsQ function.

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