A macromolecular complex formed by a pilin-like protein in competent Bacillus subtilis

Inês Chen, Roberta Provvedi, David Dubnau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


In competent Bacillus subtilis, the ComG proteins are required to allow exogenous DNA to access to membrane-bound receptor ComEA during transformation. Here we describe a multimeric complex containing the pilin-like protein ComGC. Due to similarities to the type 4 pilus and the type 2 secretion system pseudopilus, we have tentatively named it the "competence pseudopilus." The ComGC multimer is released from cells upon digestion of the cell wall with lysozyme and has a heterogeneous size, estimated to range between 40 and 100 monomers, covalently linked by disulfide bonds. We determined that the prepilin peptidase ComC, the thiol-disulfide oxidoreductase pair BdbDC, and all seven ComG proteins are necessary to form the pseudopilus. Furthermore, these proteins are also sufficient to form a functional complex, i.e. able to facilitate binding of exogenous DNA to ComEA. The initial steps of pseudopilus biogenesis include the processing of ComGC in the cytoplasmic membrane and consist of two independent events, proteolytic cleavage by ComC and formation of an intramolecular disulfide bond by BdbDC. The other ComG proteins are required to assemble the mature ComGC monomers in the membrane into a multimeric complex proposed to span the cell envelope. We discuss the possible role of the competence pseudopilus in DNA binding and uptake during transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21720-21727
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number31
StatePublished - Aug 4 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A macromolecular complex formed by a pilin-like protein in competent Bacillus subtilis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this