The SpoIIQ landmark protein has different requirements for septal localization and immobilization

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Bacillus subtilissporulation depends on the forespore membrane protein SpoIIQ, which interacts with the mother cell protein SpoIIIAH at the septum to localize other sporulation proteins. It has remained unclear how SpoIIQ localizes. We demonstrate that localization of SpoIIQ is achieved by two pathways: SpoIIIAH and the SpoIID, SpoIIM, SpoIIP engulfment proteins. SpoIIQ shows diffuse localization only in a mutant lacking both pathways. Super-resolution imaging shows that in the absence of SpoIIIAH, SpoIIQ forms fewer, slightly larger foci than in wild type. Surprisingly, photobleaching experiments demonstrate that, although SpoIIQ localizes without SpoIIIAH, it is no longer immobilized, and is therefore able to exchange subunits within a localized pool. SpoIIQ mobility is further increased by the additional absence of the engulfment proteins. However an enzymatically inactive SpoIID protein immobilizes SpoIIQ even in the absence of SpoIIIAH, indicating that complete septal thinning is not required for SpoIIQ localization. This suggests that SpoIIQ interacts with both SpoIIIAH and the engulfment proteins or their peptidoglycan cleavage products. They further demonstrate that apparently normal localization of a protein without a binding partner can mask dramatic alterations in protein mobility. We speculate that SpoIIQ assembles foci along the path defined by engulfment proteins degrading peptidoglycan.

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