A two-gene ABC-type transport system that extrudes Na+ in Bacillus subtilis is induced by ethanol or protonophore

Mol Microbiol. 1997 Mar;23(6):1107-20. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1997.2951656.x.


A transposition mutant of Bacillus subtilis (designated JC901) that was isolated on the basis of growth inhibition by Na+ at elevated pH, was deficient in energy-dependent Na+ extrusion. The capacity of the mutant JC901 for Na(+)-dependent pH homeostasis was unaffected relative to the wild-type strain, as assessed by regulation of cytoplasmic pH after an alkaline shift. The site of transposition was near the 3'-terminal end of a gene, natB, predicted to encode a membrane protein, NatB. NatB possesses six putative membrane-spanning regions at its C-terminus, and exhibits modest sequence similarity to regions of eukaryotic Na+/H+ exchangers. Sequence and Northern blot analyses suggested that natB forms an operon with an upstream gene, natA. The predicted product of natA is a member of the family of ATP-binding proteins that are components of transport systems of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) or traffic ATPase type. Expression of the lacZ gene that was under control of the promoter for natB indicated that expression of the operon was induced by ethanol and the protonophore carbonylcyanide p-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP), and more modestly, by Na+, and K+, but not by choline or a high concentration of sucrose. Restoration of the natAB genes, cloned in a recombinant plasmid (pJY1), complemented the Na(+)-sensitive phenotype of the mutant JC901 at elevated pH and significantly increased the resistance of the mutant to growth inhibition by ethanol and CCCP at pH 7; ethanol was not excluded, however, from the cells expressing natAB, so ethanol-resistance does not result from NatAB-dependent ethanol efflux. Transformation of the mutant with pJY1 did markedly enhance the capacity for Na+ efflux, which was further stimulated by CCCP. In the absence of CCCP, NatAB-mediated Na+ efflux was stimulated by K+. Concomitant NatAB-dependent K+ uptake occurred, as monitored by 86Rb+ uptake; this uptake was inhibited by CCCP and is thus secondary to the primary, electrogenic Na+ efflux. A B. subtilis mutant strain (BsAJ96) in which most of natA and all of natB was replaced by a spectinomycin-resistance-gene cassette exhibited phenotypic properties identical to JC901 Under anaerobic conditions, using a strain of B. subtilis deleted in atp genes encoding the F1F0-ATPase (BD99-A), glucose energized Na+ exclusion in an arsenate-sensitive manner; this exclusion capacity was absent in a strain deleted both in atp and natAB genes (BsAJ96-A). We conclude that NatAB is an inducible, ABC transport system that catalyses ATP-dependent electrogenic Na+ extrusion without mechanistically coupled proton or K+ uptake. This is a novel mode of Na+ extrusion that is hypothesized to play an inducible role in exclusion of cytotoxic Na+ and in the secondary stimulation of K+ uptake, especially when the function of the membrane as an ion-permeability barrier is compromised by agents such as alcohols or uncouplers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / physiology
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / physiology
  • Base Sequence
  • Carbonyl Cyanide m-Chlorophenyl Hydrazone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carbonyl Cyanide m-Chlorophenyl Hydrazone / pharmacology
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / genetics
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / physiology
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial / physiology
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Genes, Bacterial / physiology
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Lac Operon / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / genetics
  • Rubidium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics
  • Sodium / metabolism*
  • Sodium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Rubidium Radioisotopes
  • Sodium Radioisotopes
  • Ethanol
  • Carbonyl Cyanide m-Chlorophenyl Hydrazone
  • Sodium

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U30873