Evidence for an intermediate methyl-acceptor for chemotaxis in Bacillus subtilis.

M. S. Thoelke, W. A. Bedale, D. O. Nettleton, G. W. Ordal

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Bacillus subtilis responds to chemotactic attractants by demethylating certain membrane-bound proteins, termed methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs) and by augmenting the evolution of methanol. We propose that the methanol comes from a methylated intermediate rather than directly from the MCPs themselves. First, repellent blocks attractant-induced smooth swimming and methanol formation, but not MCP demethylation. Second, prior treatment of cells with much attractant to reduce radiolabeling of MCPs and increase that of the putative intermediate caused increased, rather than decreased, production of methanol upon addition and then removal of the repellent. Third, such cells also produced much, rather than little, methanol upon addition of less attractant than during the pretreatment. We speculate that unmethylated intermediate causes tumbling; attractant causes its methylation and hence absence of tumbling (smooth swimming). Its demethylation during the period of smooth swimming affords adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2811-2816
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 25 1987


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