Mutational loss of a K+ and NH4+ transporter affects the growth and endospore formation of alkaliphilic bacillus pseudofirmus OF4

Yi Wei, Thomas W. Southworth, Hilde Kloster, Masahiro Ito, Arthur A. Guffanti, Anne Moir, Terry A. Krulwich

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    A putative transport protein (Orf9) of alkaliphilic Bacillus pseudofirmus OF4 belongs to a transporter family (CPA-2) of diverse K+ efflux proteins and cation antiporters. Orf9 greatly increased the concentration of K+ required for growth of a K+ uptake mutant of Escherichia coli. The cytoplasmic K+ content of the cells was reduced, consistent with an efflux mechanism. Orf9-dependent translocation of K+ in E. coli is apparently bidirectional, since ammonium-sensitive uptake of K+ could be shown in K+-depleted cells. The upstream gene product Orf8 has sequence similarity to a subdomain of KTN proteins that are associated with potassium-translocating channels and transporters; Orf8 modulated the transport capacities of Orf9. No Orf9-dependent K+(Na+)/H+ antiport activity was found in membrane vesicles. Nonpolar deletion mutants in the orf9 locus of the alkaliphile chromosome exhibited no K+-related phenotype but showed profound phenotypes in medium containing high levels of amine-nitrogen. Their patterns of growth and ammonium content suggested a physiological role for the orf9 locus in bidirectional ammonium transport. Orf9-dependent ammonium uptake was observed in right-side-out membrane vesicles of the alkaliphile wild type and the mutant with an orf8 deletion. Uptake was proton motive force dependent and was inhibited by K+. Orf9 is proposed to be designated AmhT (ammonium homeostasis). Ammonium homeostasis is important in high-amine-nitrogen settings and is particularly crucial at high pH since cytosolic ammonium accumulation interferes with cytoplasmic pH regulation. Endospore formation in amino-acid-rich medium was significantly defective and germination was modestly defective in the orf9 and orf7-orf10 deletion mutants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)5133-5147
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Bacteriology
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003


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