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.
- DNA metabolism cooperative binding
- Mass spectrometry
- Protein kinase
- Protein phosphorylation