Multiple interactions among the competence proteins of Bacillus subtilis

Mol Microbiol. 2007 Jul;65(2):454-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.05799.x.


Proteins required for transformation of Bacillus subtilis and other competent bacteria are associated with the membrane or reside in the cytosol. Previous work has shown that RecA, ComGA, ComFA and SsbB are directed to the cell poles in competent cells, and that the uptake of transforming DNA occurs preferentially at the poles. We show that ComGA, ComFA, DprA (Smf), SsbB (YwpH), RecA and YjbF (CoiA) are located at the cell poles, where they appear to colocalize. Using fluorescence resonance energy transfer, we have shown that these six competent (Com) proteins reside in close proximity to one another. This conclusion was supported by the effects of com gene knockouts on the stabilities of Com proteins. Data obtained from the com gene knockout studies, as well as information from other sources, extend the list of proteins in the transformation complex to include ComEC and ComEA. Because ComGA and ComFA are membrane-associated, while DprA, SsbB, RecA and YjbF are soluble, a picture emerges of a large multiprotein polar complex, involving both cytosolic and membrane proteins. This complex mediates the binding and uptake of single-stranded DNA, the protection of this DNA from cellular nucleases and its recombination with the recipient chromosome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / chemistry
  • Bacillus subtilis / cytology
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / analysis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Photobleaching
  • Transformation, Bacterial*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DprA protein, bacteria
  • Membrane Proteins