In a cloned copy of comG open reading frame 3 (ORF3), an in-frame deletion was generated by site-directed in vitro mutagenesis, removing the coding sequence for 15 amino acids from the central portion of this pilin-related protein. The mutagenized ORF3 was incorporated into the Bacillus subtilis chromosome, replacing the wild-type ORF3. The presence of the deleted ORF3 in the chromosome, as confirmed by Southern analysis, was associated with the complete loss of competence by the mutant strain. The ability of the mutant cells to bind exogenous radiolabeled DNA was reduced to the level of nonspecific binding DNA by noncompetent cells. The chromosomal ORF3 mutation was partially complemented in trans by a plasmid-encoded wild-type ORF3 copy under P(SPAC) control upon induction of the P(SPAC) promoter. Using antiserum raised against a synthetic 14-mer oligopeptide deduced from the ORF3 sequence, an immunoreactive band of approximately the expected molecular size was obtained in Western blot (immunoblot) experiments with extracts of cells containing the plasmid-encoded inducible gene. A signal was also detected when cells harboring the chromosomal wild-type or mutant ORF3 in single copy were grown in competence medium. This signal was detected only in the light-buoyant-density (competent) cell fraction and only after the transition from the exponential to the stationary growth phase. In cell fractionation experiments with competent cell extracts, the immunoreactive protein was found in both the NaOH-insoluble and -soluble membrane fractions and was sensitive to proteinase K treatment of either protoplast or whole cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology