We have investigated in vivo the role of the carboxy-terminal domain of the Bacillus subtilis Single-Stranded DNA Binding protein (SSBCter) as a recruitment platform at active chromosomal forks for many proteins of the genome maintenance machineries. We probed this SSBCter interactome using GFP fusions and by Tap-tag and biochemical analysis. It includes at least 12 proteins. The interactome was previously shown to include PriA, RecG, and RecQ and extended in this study by addition of DnaE, SbcC, RarA, RecJ, RecO, XseA, Ung, YpbB, and YrrC. Targeting of YpbB to active forks appears to depend on RecS, a RecQ paralogue, with which it forms a stable complex. Most of these SSB partners are conserved in bacteria, while others, such as the essential DNA polymerase DnaE, YrrC, and the YpbB/RecS complex, appear to be specific to B. subtilis. SSBCter deletion has a moderate impact on B. subtilis cell growth. However, it markedly affects the efficiency of repair of damaged genomic DNA and arrested replication forks. ssbΔCter mutant cells appear deficient in RecA loading on ssDNA, explaining their inefficiency in triggering the SOS response upon exposure to genotoxic agents. Together, our findings show that the bacterial SSBCter acts as a DNA maintenance hub at active chromosomal forks that secures their propagation along the genome.
Cell multiplication relies primarily on the complete and accurate duplication of the genome. Thus, all organisms have evolved multiple mechanisms to protect, repair, and re-activate the DNA replication forks. A large body of research is currently aimed at deciphering the mechanisms that precisely direct the proteins involved in these rescue pathways towards the chromosome replication forks. Here, we have used the model bacterium Bacillus subtilis to demonstrate that the active chromosomal DNA replication forks are pre-equipped with many such rescue effectors via their direct physical interaction with the carboxy-terminal end (Cter) of the Single-Stranded DNA Binding protein (SSB). A detailed analysis of the multiple defects of viable B. subtilis mutants deleted for the Cter of SSB (SSBCter) revealed the vital role of this domain for the maintenance of genome integrity and fork propagation. The inability to grow at high temperature is a major defect of the ssbΔCter mutant. We show that this lethality can be specifically suppressed by overexpression of RecO, one of the numerous partners of SSB, apparently by mediating the loading of the RecA recombinase on ssDNA.