Increasing the Ratio of Soj to Spo0J Promotes Replication Initiation in Bacillus subtilis

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Journal Article
Journal of Bacteriology, 2003, 185 (21), pp. 6316 - 6324
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The ParA and ParB protein families are well conserved in bacteria. However, their functions are still unclear. In Bacillus subtilis, Soj and Spo0J are members of these two protein families, respectively. A previous report revealed that replication initiated early and asynchronously in spo0J null mutant cells, as determined by flow cytometry. In this study, we examined the cause of this promotion of replication initiation. Deletion of both the soj and spo0J genes restored the frequency of replication initiation to almost the wild-type level, suggesting that production of Soj in the absence of Spo0J leads to early and asynchronous initiation of replication. Consistent with this suggestion, overproduction of Soj in wild-type cells had the same effect on replication initiation as in the spo0J null mutant, and overproduction of both Soj and Spo0J did not. These results indicate that when the ratio of Soj to Spo0J increases, Soj interferes with tight control of replication initiation and causes early and asynchronous initiation. Whereas replication initiation also occurred significantly earlier in the two spo0J mutants, spo0J14 and spo0J17, it occurred only slightly early in the sojK16Q mutant and was delayed in the sojG12V mutant. Although Soj localized to nucleoids in the spo0J mutants, the two Soj mutant proteins were distributed throughout the cell or localized to cell poles. Thus, interestingly, the promotion of replication initiation seems to correlate with localization of Soj to nucleoids. This may suggest that Soj inhibits transcription of some cell cycle genes and leads to early and asynchronous initiation of replication. In wild-type cells Spo0J counteracts this Soj function.
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