YpeB dimerization may be required to stabilize SleB for effective germination of Bacillus anthracis spores
Sayer, Cameron V.
Popham, David L.
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Abstract Background Bacillus cells faced with unfavorable environmental conditions undergo an asymmetric division process ultimately leading to the formation of the bacterial spore. In some instances the spore serves as an infectious agent; such is the case with the spore of Bacillus anthracis and the disease anthrax. Spores are resistant to a variety of environment conditions including traditional decontamination techniques due to the formation of specialized cellular structures. One such structure, the spore cortex, is a thick layer of modified peptidoglycan that contributes to spore dormancy through maintenance of the dehydrated state of the spore core. During spore germination, degradation of the cortex is required to facilitate complete hydration of the core and a return to vegetative growth. Degradation of the cortex is accomplished through the action of germination-specific lytic enzymes. One of these enzymes, SleB, has been previously shown to require the presence of the YpeB protein for its stable incorporation and subsequent function in spores of B. anthracis. The focus of the present study is to identify protein interactions of YpeB through in vivo chemical cross-linking and two-hybrid analysis. Results Conserved residues within YpeB PepSY domains were altered to facilitate implementation of a site-specific chemical cross-linker, 4-Azidophenacyl bromide. Analyses of crosslinked-spore extracts suggests that YpeB exists as a dimer or larger multimer within the spore, potentially mediated through interactions of the C-terminal domains. Spores expressing stable truncated forms of YpeB were crosslinked and corresponding truncated dimers were detected. Further characterization of individual YpeB domains using bacterial two-hybrid analysis indicated a possible role for both N-and C-terminal domains in YpeB oligomerization. Conclusions The YpeB protein likely exists as dimer or higher-order multimer in the dormant spore. Both the N- and C-terminal YpeB domains contribute to multimerization. SleB likely also exists as an oligomer, and SleB and YpeB may be found together within a protein complex. Disassembly of this complex during spore germination likely allows SleB to become active in spore cortex degradation. Further study of this protein complex may contribute to the development of methods to inhibit or stimulate germination, allowing more effective spore decontamination.