MotPS is the stator-force generator for motility of alkaliphilic Bacillus, and its homologue is a second functional Mot in Bacillus subtilis


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The stator-force generator that drives Na+-dependent motility in alkaliphilic Bacillus pseudofirmus OF4 is identified here as MotPS, MotAB-like proteins with genes that are downstream of the ccpA gene, which encodes a major regulator of carbon metabolism. B. pseudofirmus OF4 was only motile at pH values above 8. Disruption of motPS resulted in a non-motile phenotype, and motility was restored by transformation with a multicopy plasmid containing the motPS genes. Purified and reconstituted MotPS from B. pseudofirmus OF4 catalysed amiloride analogue-sensitive Na+ translocation. In contrast to B. pseudofirmus, Bacillus subtilis contains both MotAB and MotPS systems. The role of the motPS genes from B. subtilis in several motility-based behaviours was tested in isogenic strains with intact motAB and motPS loci, only one of the two mot systems or neither mot system. B. subtilis MotPS (BsMotPS) supported Na+-stimulated motility, chemotaxis on soft agar surfaces and biofilm formation, especially after selection of an up-motile variant. BsMotPS also supported motility in agar soft plugs immersed in liquid; motility was completely inhibited by an amiloride analogue. BsMotPS did not support surfactin-dependent swarming on higher concentration agar surfaces. These results indicate that BsMotPS contributes to biofilm formation and motility on soft agar, but not to swarming, in laboratory strains of B. subtilis in which MotAB is the dominant stator-force generator. BsMotPS could potentially be dominant for motility in B. subtilis variants that arise in particular niches.