Glucolipids in Bacillus subtilis are synthesized by UgtP processively transferring glucose from UDP-glucose to diacylglycerol. Here we conclude that the abnormal morphology of a ugtP mutant is caused by lack of glucolipids, since the same morphology arises after abolition of glucolipid production by disruption of pgcA and gtaB, which are involved in UDP-glucose synthesis. Conversely, expression of a monoglucosyl-diacylglycerol (MGlcDG) produced by 1,2-diacylglycerol 3-glucosyltransferase from Acholeplasma laidlawii (alMGS) almost completely suppressed the ugtP disruptant phenotype. Activation of extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigmas (SigM, SigV, and SigX) in the ugtP mutant was decreased by alMGS expression, and was suppressed to low levels by MgSO4 addition. When alMGS and alDGS (A. laidlawii 1,2-diacylglycerol-3-glucose (1-2)-glucosyltransferase producing diglucosyldiacylglycerol (DGlcDG)) were simultaneously expressed, SigX activation was repressed to wild type level. These observations suggest that MGlcDG molecules are required for maintenance of B. subtilis cell shape and regulation of ECF sigmas, and DGlcDG regulates SigX activity.
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