Bacillus subtilis responds to attractants by de-methylating a group of integral membrane proteins referred to as methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs). We have studied the methylation and demethylation of these proteins in an in vitro system, consisting of membrane vesicles, and purified methyltransferase and methylesterase. The che-moattractant aspartate was found to inhibit methylation and stimulate demethylation of MCPs. Escherichia coli radiolabeled membranes in the presence of B. subtilis enzyme do not respond to aspartate by an increase demethylation rate. We also report that B. subtilis MCPs are multiply methylated, demethylation resulting in slower migrating proteins on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels.
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