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Mol Microbiol. 1995 Feb;15(3):543-51.

ComC is required for the processing and translocation of comGC, a pilin-like competence protein of Bacillus subtilis.

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Public Health Research Institute, New York, New York 10016, USA.


ComGC is a cell surface-localized protein required for DNA binding during transformation in Bacillus subtilis. It resembles type IV prepilins in its N-terminal domain, particularly in the amino acid sequence surrounding the processing cleavage sites of these proteins. ComC is another protein required for DNA binding, which resembles the processing proteases that cleave type IV prepilins. We show here that ComGC is processed in competent cells and that this processing requires ComC. We also demonstrate that the PilD protein of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a ComC homologue, can process ComGC in Escherichia coli, and that the ComC protein itself is the only B. subtilis protein needed to accomplish cleavage of ComGC in the latter organism. Based on NaOH-solubility studies, we have shown that in the absence of ComC, but in the presence of all other competence proteins, B. subtilis is incapable of correctly translocating ComGC to the outer face of the cell membrane. Finally, we show that ComGC can be cross-linked to yield a form with higher molecular mass, possibly a dimer, and present evidence suggesting that formation of the higher mass complex takes place in the membrane, prior to translocation. Formation of this complex does not require ComC or any of the comG products, other than ComGC itself.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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