In Bacillus subtilis, extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factors are activated by reduction of phosphatidylglycerol (PG) content, absence of glucolipids, or absence of lipoteichoic acid (LTA). LTA is synthesized by polymerization of the glycerophosphate moiety of PG onto diglucosyldiacylglycerol (DGlcDG), a major glucolipid in B. subtilis, in the plasma membrane. Thus, reduction of PG content or absence of glucolipids might cause some changes in LTA, and hence we investigated whether reduction of PG content or absence of glucolipids induces the activation of ECF sigma factors independently from an ensuing change in LTA. Disruption of ugtP, responsible for glucolipid synthesis, in cells lacking LTA caused an additive increase of activation levels of σM, σX, σV and σY (3.1-, 2.2-, 2.1- and 1.4-fold, respectively), relative to their activation levels in cells lacking LTA alone. Reduction of PG content (by repressing Pspac-pgsA) in the cells lacking LTA caused an additive increase of activation levels of σM, σW and σV (2.3-, 1.9- and 2.2-fold, respectively). These results suggested that absence of glucolipids or reduction of PG alone, not the possible secondary alteration in LTA, leads to changes that affect the regulation systems of some ECF sigma factors in the plasma membrane.
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