Molecular and General Genetics MGG

, Volume 207, Issue 1, pp 73–81 | Cite as

Expression of heterologous genes for wall teichoic acid in Bacillus subtilis 168

  • Dimitri Karamata
  • Harold M. Pooley
  • Michel Monod


A localized region of low DNA sequence homology was revealed in two strains of Bacillus subtilis by a specific 100-fold reduction in transformation by W23 DNA of the tag1 locus, a teichoic acid marker of strain 168. Fifty nine rare recombinants, hybrid at this locus, had all acquired donor-specific phage resistance characters, while losing those specific to the 168 recipient. Chemical analysis of isolated cell walls showed that these modifications are associated with major changes in the wall teichoic acids. Genetic analysis demonstrated that determinants for the ribitol phosphate polymer of strain W23 had been transferred to 168, replacing those for the glycerol phosphate polymer in the recipient. All W23 genes coding for poly(ribitol phosphate) in the hybrids and those specifying anionic wall polymers in strain 168 are clustered near hisA. In addition to tag1, the region exchanged extends just beyond gtaA in some hybrids, whereas in others it may include the more distant gtaB marker, encompassing a region sufficient to contain at least 20 average-sized genes. Surface growth, flagellation, transformability and sporulation all appeared normal in hybrids examined. Recombinants without a major wall teichoic acid from either strain were not found, suggesting that an integral transfer of genes for poly(ribitol phosphate) from W23 had occurred in all hybrids isolated. We interpret these results as indicating an essential role for anionic wall polymers in the growth of B. subtillis.

Key words

Localized low DNA sequence homology Genetics of teichoic acids Role of wall anionic polymers 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dimitri Karamata
    • 1
  • Harold M. Pooley
    • 1
  • Michel Monod
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de génétique et biologie microbiennesLausanneSwitzerland

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