Structure and function of the Bacillus SpoIIE protein and its localization to sites of sporulation septum assembly


Philip Youngman E-mail; Tel. (706) 542 1417; Fax (706) 542 1417.


Functioning of the spoIIE locus of Bacillus subtilis is required for formation of a normal polar septum during sporulation and for activation of the transcription factor σF, which directs early forespore-specific gene expression. We have determined the DNA sequence of the wild type and several mutant alleles of the spoIIE gene of B. subtilis and sequenced a substantial portion of its presumptive homologue in Bacillus megaterium. We show that the spoIIE locus encodes a single large protein with a predicted molecular mass of 92 kDa. Each of five point-mutation alleles, which have traditionally defined the locus, and two transposon-generated mutations were shown to fall within the coding sequence for the 92 kDa gene product or within sequences expected to be required for its expression. The amino-terminal portion of the predicted SpoIIE gene product, comprising approximately 40% of the protein, is extremely hydrophobic and is expected to contain up to 12 membrane-spanning segments. The remainder of the protein contains no hydrophobic segments long enough to span a lipid bilayer and is therefore presumed to comprise one or more globular, aqueous-phase exposed domains. An in-frame fusion joining the 3′ end of the B. megaterium spoIIE coding sequence to the 5′ end of gfp, a gene encoding the green fluorescent protein (GFP) of Aquorea victoria, resulted in a strong, sporulation-specific fluorescent signal localized to the sites of sporulation septum assembly. We speculate that SpoIIE plays a role in assembling the sporulation septum, perhaps determining the special properties of the structure that permit intercompartment signalling during development.