During sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, the onset of activity of the late forespore-specific sigma factor σ<sup>G</sup> coincides with completion of forespore engulfment by the mother cell. At this stage, the forespore becomes a free protoplast, surrounded by the mother cell cytoplasm and separated from it by two membranes that derive from the asymmetric division septum. Continued gene expression in the forespore, isolated from the surrounding medium, relies on the SpoIIIA-SpoIIQ secretion system assembled from proteins synthesised both in the mother cell and in the forespore. The membrane protein insertase SpoIIIJ, of the YidC/Oxa1/Alb3 family, is involved in the assembly of the SpoIIIA-SpoIIQ complex. Here we show that SpoIIIJ exists as a mixture of monomers and dimers stabilised by a disulphide bond. We show that residue Cys134 within transmembrane segment 2 (TM2) of SpoIIIJ is important to stabilise the protein in the dimeric form. Labelling of Cys134 with a Cys-reactive reagent could only be achieved under stringent conditions, suggesting a tight association at least in part through TM2, between monomers in the membrane. Substitution of Cys134 by an Ala results in accumulation of the monomer, and reduces SpoIIIJ function in vivo. Therefore, SpoIIIJ activity in vivo appears to require dimer formation. © 2014 Côrte et al.
Côrte, L., Valente, F., Serrano, M., Gomes, C. M., Moran, C. P., & Henriques, A. O. (2014). A conserved cysteine residue of Bacillus subtilis SpoIIIJ is important for endospore development. PLoS ONE, 9(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099811