The γ-aminobutyrate permease GabP serves as the third proline transporter of Bacillus subtilis

J Bacteriol. 2014 Feb;196(3):515-26. doi: 10.1128/JB.01128-13. Epub 2013 Oct 18.


PutP and OpuE serve as proline transporters when this imino acid is used by Bacillus subtilis as a nutrient or as an osmostress protectant, respectively. The simultaneous inactivation of the PutP and OpuE systems still allows the utilization of proline as a nutrient. This growth phenotype pointed to the presence of a third proline transport system in B. subtilis. We took advantage of the sensitivity of a putP opuE double mutant to the toxic proline analog 3,4-dehydro-dl-proline (DHP) to identify this additional proline uptake system. DHP-resistant mutants were selected and found to be defective in the use of proline as a nutrient. Whole-genome resequencing of one of these strains provided the lead that the inactivation of the γ-aminobutyrate (GABA) transporter GabP was responsible for these phenotypes. DNA sequencing of the gabP gene in 14 additionally analyzed DHP-resistant strains confirmed this finding. Consistently, each of the DHP-resistant mutants was defective not only in the use of proline as a nutrient but also in the use of GABA as a nitrogen source. The same phenotype resulted from the targeted deletion of the gabP gene in a putP opuE mutant strain. Hence, the GabP carrier not only serves as an uptake system for GABA but also functions as the third proline transporter of B. subtilis. Uptake studies with radiolabeled GABA and proline confirmed this conclusion and provided information on the kinetic parameters of the GabP carrier for both of these substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral / genetics
  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral / metabolism*
  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / physiology*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Neutral
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • proline transporter