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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jan 18;288(3):2004-17. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.395491. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

Cyclic di-AMP homeostasis in bacillus subtilis: both lack and high level accumulation of the nucleotide are detrimental for cell growth.

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Department of General Microbiology, Institute of Microbiology and Genetics, Georg-August University Göttingen, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.


The genome of the Gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis encodes three potential diadenylate cyclases that may synthesize the signaling nucleotide cyclic di-AMP (c-di-AMP). These enzymes are expressed under different conditions in different cell compartments, and they localize to distinct positions in the cell. Here we demonstrate the diadenylate cyclase activity of the so far uncharacterized enzymes CdaA (previously known as YbbP) and CdaS (YojJ). Our work confirms that c-di-AMP is essential for the growth of B. subtilis and shows that an excess of the molecule is also harmful for the bacteria. Several lines of evidence suggest that the diadenylate cyclase CdaA is part of the conserved essential cda-glm module involved in cell wall metabolism. In contrast, the CdaS enzyme seems to provide c-di-AMP for spores. Accumulation of large amounts of c-di-AMP impairs the growth of B. subtilis and results in the formation of aberrant curly cells. This phenotype can be partially suppressed by elevated concentrations of magnesium. These observations suggest that c-di-AMP interferes with the peptidoglycan synthesis machinery. The activity of the diadenylate cyclases is controlled by distinct molecular mechanisms. CdaA is stimulated by a regulatory interaction with the CdaR (YbbR) protein. In contrast, the activity of CdaS seems to be intrinsically restricted, and a single amino acid substitution is sufficient to drastically increase the activity of the enzyme. Taken together, our results support the idea of an important role for c-di-AMP in B. subtilis and suggest that the levels of the nucleotide have to be tightly controlled.

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