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J Bacteriol. 1997 Mar;179(5):1475-81.

Evidence for a multimeric subtilin synthetase complex.

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Institute for Microbiology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universit├Ąt, Frankfurt/M., Federal Republic of Germany.


Subtilin is a lanthionine-containing peptide antibiotic (lantibiotic) produced by Bacillus subtilis. It is ribosomally synthesized as a prepeptide and modified posttranslationally. Three proteins of the subtilin gene cluster (SpaB, SpaC, and SpaT) which are probably involved in prepeptide modification and transport have been identified genetically (C. Klein, C. Kaletta, N. Schnell, and K.-D. Entian, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58: 132-142, 1992). Immunoblot analysis revealed that production of SpaC is strongly regulated (Z. Gutowski-Eckel, C. Klein, K. Siegers, K. Bohm, M. Hammelmann, and K.-D. Entian, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60:1-11, 1994). Transcription of the SpaC protein started in the late logarithmic growth phase, reaching a maximum in the early stationary growth phase. No SpaC was detectable in the early logarithmic growth phase. Deletions within the spaR and spaK genes, which act as a two-component regulatory system, resulted in failure to express SpaB and SpaC, indicating that these two genes are the regulatory targets. Western blot analysis of vesicle preparations of B. subtilis revealed that the SpaB, SpaT, and SpaC proteins are membrane bound, although some of the protein was also detectable in cell extracts. By using the yeast two-hybrid analysis system for protein interactions, we showed that a complex of at least two each of SpaT, SpaB, and SpaC is most probably associated with the substrate SpaS. These results were also confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation experiments. In these cosedimentation experiments, SpaB and SpaC were coprecipitated by antisera against SpaC, SpaB, and SpaT, as well as by a monoclonal antibody against epitope-tagged SpaS, indicating that these four proteins are associated.

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