Autoregulation of SafA assembly through recruitment of a protein cross-linking enzyme

Catarina G. Fernandes, Charles P. Moran, Adriano O. Henriques

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


The coat of Bacillus subtilis spores is a multiprotein protective structure that also arbitrates many of the environmental interactions of the spore. The coat assembles around the cortex peptidoglycan layer and is differentiated into an inner and an outer layer and a crust. SafA governs assembly of the inner coat, whereas CotE drives outer coat assembly. SafA localizes to the cortex-coat interface. Both SafA and its short form C30 are substrates for Tgl, a coat-associated transglutaminase that cross-links proteins through ε-(γ-glutamyl)lysyl isopeptide bonds. We show that SafA and C30 are distributed between the coat and cortex layers. The deletion of tgl increases the extractability of SafA, mainly from the cortex. Tgl itself is mostly located in the inner coat and cortex. The localization of Tgl-cyan fluorescent protein (Tgl-CFP) is strongly, but not exclusively, dependent on safA. However, the association of Tgl with the cortex requires safA. Together, our results suggest an assembly pathway in which Tgl is first recruited to the forming spore in a manner that is only partially dependent on SafA and then is drafted to the cortex by SafA. Tgl, in turn, promotes the conversion of coat- and cortex-associated SafA into forms that resist extraction, possibly by catalyzing the cross-linking of SafA to other coat proteins, to the cortex, and/or to cortex-associated proteins. Therefore, the final assembly state of SafA relies on an autoregulatory pathway that requires the subcellular localization of a protein cross-linking enzyme. Tgl most likely exerts a "spotwelding" activity, cross-linking preformed complexes in the cortex and inner coat layers of spores.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00066-18
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Bacterial transglutaminase
  • Spore coat assembly
  • Sporulation
  • Tgl

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