Characterization of a membrane-linked Ser/Thr protein kinase in Bacillus subtilis, implicated in developmental processes

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Oct;46(2):571-86. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.03178.x.


PrkC was shown to be a eukaryotic-like (Hanks-type) protein kinase from Bacillus subtilis with a structural organization similar to that of the eukaryotic sensor Ser/Thr or Tyr kinases (e.g. the TGF beta or PDGF receptors). The molecule consists of a catalytic domain located in the cytoplasm, joined by a single transmembrane-spanning region (TMD) to a large extracellular domain. Using a genetic reporter system, involving the cI repressor of lambda, evidence was obtained indicating that PrkC forms a dimer, involving both the TMD and the external domain in dimerization. The purified catalytic domain of PrkC was shown to autophosphorylate and to phosphorylate an external target, MBP, in both cases on threonine. These two functions require the completely conserved K40 residue in subdomain II, which is essential for enzymatic activity. Importantly, both the mutant deleted for prkC and a K40R mutant exhibit decreased efficiency of sporulation and a significant reduction in biofilm formation, demonstrating that the catalytic activity of PrkC is necessary for these two developmental processes. In addition, we showed that the product of prpC, a PPM phosphatase encoded by the adjacent gene, co-transcribed with prkC, is also required for normal biofilm and spore formation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / physiology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Dimerization
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / genetics
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases* / chemistry
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases* / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases* / metabolism
  • Spores, Bacterial / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases