ClpC and MecA, components of a proteolytic machine, prevent Spo0A-P-dependent transcription without degradation

Andrew W. Tanner, Valerie J. Carabetta, David Dubnau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In Bacillus subtilis, a proteolytic machine composed of MecA, ClpC and ClpP degrades the transcription factor ComK, controlling its accumulation during growth. MecA also inhibits sporulation and biofilm formation by down-regulating spoIIG and sinI, genes that are dependent for their transcription on the phosphorylated protein Spo0A-P. Additionally, MecA has been shown to interact in vitro with Spo0A. Although the inhibitory effect on transcription requires MecA's binding partner ClpC, inhibition is not accompanied by the degradation of Spo0A, pointing to a previously unsuspected regulatory mechanism involving these proteins. Here, we further investigate the MecA and ClpC effects on Spo0A-P-dependent transcription. We show that MecA inhibits the transcription of several Spo0A-P activated genes, but fails to de-repress several Spo0A-P repressed promoters. This demonstrates that MecA and ClpC do not act by preventing the binding of Spo0A-P to its target promoters. Consistent with this, MecA by itself has no effect in vitro on the transcription from PspoIIG while the addition of both MecA and ClpC has a strong inhibitory effect. A complex of MecA and ClpC likely binds to Spo0A-P on its target promoters, preventing the activation of transcription. Thus, components of a degradative machine have been harnessed to directly repress transcription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-186
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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