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Free Content Evidence that the SpoIIIE DNA translocase participates in membrane fusion during cytokinesis and engulfment

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During Bacillus subtilis sporulation, SpoIIIE is required for translocation of the trapped forespore chromosome across the sporulation septum, for compartmentalization of cell-specific gene expression, and for membrane fusion after engulfment. We isolated mutations within the SpoIIIE membrane domain that block localization and function. One mutant protein initially localizes normally and completes DNA translocation, but shows reduced membrane fusion after engulfment. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments demonstrate that in this mutant the sporulation septum remains open, allowing cytoplasmic contents to diffuse between daughter cells, suggesting that it blocks membrane fusion after cytokinesis as well as after engulfment. We propose that SpoIIIE catalyses these topologically opposite fusion events by assembling or disassembling a proteinaceous fusion pore. Mutants defective in SpoIIIE assembly also demonstrate that the ability of SpoIIIE to provide a diffusion barrier is directly proportional to its ability to assemble a focus at the septal midpoint during DNA translocation. Thus, SpoIIIE mediates compartmentalization by two distinct mechanisms: the SpoIIIE focus first provides a temporary diffusion barrier during DNA translocation, and then mediates the completion of membrane fusion after division to provide a permanent diffusion barrier. SpoIIIE-like proteins might therefore serve to couple the final step in cytokinesis, septal membrane fusion, to the completion of chromosome segregation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Biological Sciences, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0377, USA.

Publication date: February 1, 2006

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