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J Bacteriol. 2013 May;195(10):2146-54. doi: 10.1128/JB.00117-13. Epub 2013 Mar 8.

Dynamic localization of a transcription factor in Bacillus subtilis: the LicT antiterminator relocalizes in response to inducer availability.

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


Bacillus subtilis transports β-glucosides such as salicin by a dedicated phosphotransferase system (PTS). The expression of the β-glucoside permease BglP is induced in the presence of the substrate salicin, and this induction requires the binding of the antiterminator protein LicT to a specific RNA target in the 5' region of the bglP mRNA to prevent the formation of a transcription terminator. LicT is composed of an N-terminal RNA-binding domain and two consecutive PTS regulation domains, PRD1 and PRD2. In the absence of salicin, LicT is phosphorylated on PRD1 by BglP and thereby inactivated. In the presence of the inducer, the phosphate group from PRD1 is transferred back to BglP and consequently to the incoming substrate, resulting in the activation of LicT. In this study, we have investigated the intracellular localization of LicT. While the protein was evenly distributed in the cell in the absence of the inducer, we observed a subpolar localization of LicT if salicin was present in the medium. Upon addition or removal of the inducer, LicT rapidly relocalized in the cells. This dynamic relocalization did not depend on the binding of LicT to its RNA target sites, since the localization pattern was not affected by deletion of all LicT binding sites. In contrast, experiments with mutants affected in the PTS components as well as mutations of the LicT phosphorylation sites revealed that phosphorylation of LicT by the PTS components plays a major role in the control of the subcellular localization of this RNA-binding transcription factor.

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