The phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent phosphotransferase system (PTS) plays a major role in the ability of Escherichia coli to migrate toward PTS carbohydrates. The present study establishes that chemotaxis toward PTS substrates in Bacillus subtilis is mediated by the PTS as well as by a methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein (MCP). As for E. coli, a B. subtilis ptsH null mutant is severely deficient in chemotaxis toward most PTS carbohydrates. Tethering analysis revealed that this mutant does respond normally to the stepwise addition of a PTS substrate (positive stimulus) but fails to respond normally to the stepwise removal of such a substrate (negative stimulus). An mcpC null mutant showed no response to the stepwise addition or removal of D-glucose or D-mannitol, both of which are PTS substrates. Therefore, in contrast to E. coli PTS carbohydrate chemotaxis, B. subtilis PTS carbohydrate chemotaxis is mediated by both MCPs and the PTS; the response to positive stimulus is primarily McpC mediated, while the duration or magnitude of the response to negative PTS carbohydrate stimulus is greatly influenced by components of the PTS and McpC. In the case of the PTS substrate D-glucose, the response to negative stimulus is also partially mediated by McpA. Finally, we show that B. subtilis EnzymeI-P has the ability to inhibit B. subtilis CheA autophosphorylation in vitro. We hypothesize that chemotaxis in the spatial gradient of the capillary assay may result from a combination of a transient increase in the intracellular concentration of EnzymeI-P and a decrease in the concentration of carbohydrate-associated McpC as the cell moves down the carbohydrate concentration gradient. Both events appear to contribute to inhibition of CheA activity that increases the tendency of the bacteria to tumble. In the case of D-glucose, a decrease in D-glucose-associated McpA may also contribute to the inhibition of CheA. This bias on the otherwise random walk allows net migration, or chemotaxis, to occur.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology