At a late stage in spore development in Bacillus subtilis, the mother cell directs synthesis of a layer of peptidoglycan known as the cortex between the two forespore membranes, as well as the assembly of a protective protein coat at the surface of the forespore outer membrane. SafA, the key determinant of inner coat assembly, is first recruited to the surface of the developing spore and then encases the spore under the control of the morphogenetic protein SpoVID. SafA has a LysM peptidoglycan-binding domain, SafA LysM , and localizes to the cortex-coat interface in mature spores. SafA LysM is followed by a region, A, required for an interaction with SpoVID and encasement. We now show that residues D10 and N30 in SafA LysM , while involved in the interaction with peptidoglycan, are also required for the interaction with SpoVID and encasement. We further show that single alanine substitutions on residues S11, L12, and I39 of SafA LysM that strongly impair binding to purified cortex peptidoglycan affect a later stage in the localization of SafA that is also dependent on the activity of SpoVE, a transglycosylase required for cortex formation. The assembly of SafA thus involves sequential protein-protein and protein-peptidoglycan interactions, mediated by the LysM domain, which are required first for encasement then for the final localization of the protein in mature spores. IMPORTANCE Bacillus subtilis spores are encased in a multiprotein coat that surrounds an underlying peptidoglycan layer, the cortex. How the connection between the two layers is enforced is not well established. Here, we elucidate the role of the peptidoglycan-binding LysM domain, present in two proteins, SafA and SpoVID, that govern the localization of additional proteins to the coat. We found that SafA LysM is a protein-protein interaction module during the early stages of coat assembly and a cortex-binding module at late stages in morphogenesis, with the cortex-binding function promoting a tight connection between the cortex and the coat. In contrast, SpoVID LysM functions only as a protein-protein interaction domain that targets SpoVID to the spore surface at the onset of coat assembly.
- LysM domain
- Peptidoglycan-binding protein
- Spore coat
- Spore cortex