Bacillus subtilis single-stranded DNA-binding protein SsbA is phosphorylated at threonine 38 by the serine/threonine kinase YabT

Abderahmane Derouiche, Dina Petranovic, Boris Macek, Ivan Mijakovic

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Background and purpose: Single-stranded DNA-binding proteins participate in all stages of DNA metabolism that involve single-stranded DNA, from replication, recombination, repair of DNA damage, to natural competence in species such as Bacillus subtilis. B. subtilis single-stranded DNA-binding proteins have previously been found to be phosphorylated on tyrosine and arginine residues. While tyrosine phosphorylation was shown to enhance the DNA-binding properties of SsbA, arginine phosphorylation was not functionally characterized.Materials and methods: We used mass spectrometry analysis to detect phosphorylation of SsbA purified from B. subtilis cells. The detected phosphorylation site was assessed for its influence on DNA-binding in vitro, using electrophoretic mobility shift assays. The ability of B. subtilis serine/threonine kinases to phosphorylate SsbA was assessed using in vitro phosphorylation assays.Results: In addition to the known tyrosine phosphorylation of SsbA on tyrosine 82, we identified a new phosphorylation site: threonine 38. The in vitro assays demonstrated that SsbA is preferentially phosphorylated by the B. subtilis Hanks-type kinase YabT, and phosphorylation of threonine 38 leads to enhanced cooperative binding to DNA.Conclusions: Our findings contribute to the emerging picture that bacterial proteins, exemplified here by SsbA, undergo phosphorylation at multiple residues. This results in a complex regulation of cellular functions, and suggests that the complexity of the bacterial cellular regulation may be underestimated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPeriodicum Biologorum
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)399-404
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • DNA metabolism cooperative binding
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Protein kinase
  • Protein phosphorylation


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