Stably bridging a great divide: localization of the SpoIIQ landmark protein inBacillus subtilis

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Many bacterial proteins involved in fundamental processes such as cell shape maintenance, cell cycle regulation, differentiation, division and motility localize dynamically to specific subcellular regions. However, the mechanisms underlying dynamic protein localization are incompletely understood. Using the SpoIIQ protein inBacillus subtilisas a case study, two reports present important novel insights into how a protein finds its right place at the right time and remains stably bound. During sporulation, SpoIIQ localizes in clusters in the forespore membrane at the interface that separates the forespore and mother cell and functions as a landmark protein for SpoIIIAH in the mother cell membrane. The extracellular domains of SpoIIQ and SpoIIIAH interact directly effectively bridging the gap between the two membranes. Here, SpoIIQ localization is shown to depend on two pathways, one involves SpoIIIAH, the second involves two peptidoglycan-degrading enzymes SpoIIP and SpoIID; and, SpoIIQ is only delocalized in the absence of all three proteins. Importantly, in the absence of SpoIIIAH, SpoIIQ apparently localizes normally. However, FRAP experiments demonstrated that SpoIIQ is not stably maintained in the clusters in this mutant. Thus, a second targeting pathway can mask significant changes in the localization of a protein.

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