The master regulator CtrA oscillates during the Caulobacter cell cycle due to temporally regulated proteolysis and transcription. It is proteolysed during the G1–S transition and reaccumulates in predivisional cells as a result of transcription from two sequentially activated promoters, P1 and P2. CtrA reinforces its own synthesis by directly mediating the activation of P2 concurrently with repression of P1. To explore the role of P1 in cell cycle control, we engineered a mutation into the native ctrA locus that prevents transcription from P1 but not P2. As expected, the ctrA P1 mutant exhibits striking growth, morphological and DNA replication defects. Unexpectedly, we found CtrA and its antagonist SciP, but not DnaA, GcrA or CcrM accumulation to be dramatically reduced in the ctrA P1 mutant. SciP levels closely paralleled CtrA accumulation, suggesting that CtrA acts as a rheostat to modulate SciP abundance. Furthermore, the reappearance of CtrA and CcrM in predivisional cells was delayed in the P1 mutant by 0.125 cell cycle unit in synchronized cultures. High levels of ccrM transcription despite low levels of CtrA and increased transcription of ctrA P2 in the ctrA P1 mutant are two examples of robustness in the cell cycle. Thus, Caulobacter can adjust regulatory pathways to partially compensate for reduced and delayed CtrA accumulation in the ctrA P1 mutant.
Vibrio parahaemolyticus pandemic serotype O3 : K6 causes acute gastroenteritis, wound infections and septicaemia in humans. This organism encodes two type III secretion systems (T3SS1 and T3SS2); host-cell cytotoxicity has been attributed to T3SS1. Synthesis and secretion of T3SS1 proteins is positively regulated by ExsA, which is presumptively regulated by the ExsCDE pathway, similar to Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Herein we deleted the putative exsE from V. parahaemolyticus and found constitutive expression of the T3SS1 in broth culture as expected. More importantly, however, in a cell culture model, the ΔexsE strain was unable to induce cytotoxicity, as measured by release of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), or autophagy, as measured by LC3 conversion. This is markedly different from P. aeruginosa, where deletion of exsE has no effect on host-cell cytolysis. Swarming and cytoadhesion were reduced for the deletion mutant and could be recovered along with T3SS1-induced HeLa cell cytotoxicity by in cis expression of exsE in the ΔexsE strain. Loss of adhesion and swarming motility was associated with the loss of flagella biogenesis in the exsE-deficient strain. Mouse mortality was unaffected by the deletion of exsE compared with a wild-type control, suggesting that additional adhesins are important for intoxication in vivo. Based on these data, we conclude that ExsE contributes to the negative regulation of T3SS1 and, in addition, contributes to regulation of an adherence phenotype that is requisite for translocation of effector proteins into HeLa cells.
The Clp/HSP100 family of molecular chaperones is ubiquitous in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These proteins play important roles in refolding, disaggregating and degrading proteins damaged by stress. As a subclass of the Clp/HSP100 family, ClpB has been shown to be involved in various stress responses as well as other functions in bacteria. In the present study, we investigated the role of a predicted ClpB-encoding gene, MXAN5092, in the stress response during vegetative growth and development of Myxococcus xanthus. Transcriptional analysis confirmed induction of this clpB homologue under different stress conditions, and further phenotypic analysis revealed that an in-frame deletion mutant of MXAN5092 was more sensitive to various stress treatments than the wild-type strain during vegetative growth. Moreover, the absence of the MXAN5092 gene resulted in decreased heat tolerance of myxospores, indicating the involvement of this clpB homologue in the stress response during the development of myxospores. The M. xanthus recombinant ClpB (MXAN5092) protein also showed a general chaperone activity in vitro. Overall, our genetic and phenotypic analysis of the predicted ATP-dependent chaperone protein ClpB (MXAN5092) demonstrated that it functions as a chaperone protein and plays an important role in cellular stress tolerance during both vegetative growth and development of M. xanthus.
A new generation of vaccines containing multiple protein components that aim to provide broad protection against serogroup B meningococci has been developed. One candidate, 4CMenB (4 Component MenB), has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, but is predicted to provide at most 70–80 % strain coverage; hence there is a need for second-generation vaccines that achieve higher levels of coverage. Prior knowledge of the diversity of potential protein vaccine components is a key step in vaccine design. A number of iron import systems have been targeted in meningococcal vaccine development, including the HmbR and HpuAB outer-membrane proteins, which mediate the utilization of haemoglobin or haemoglobin–haptoglobin complexes as iron sources. While the genetic diversity of HmbR has been described, little is known of the diversity of HpuAB. Using whole genome sequences deposited in a Bacterial Isolate Genome Sequence Database (BIGSDB), the prevalence and diversity of HpuAB among Neisseria were investigated. HpuAB was widely present in a range of Neisseria species whereas HmbR was mainly limited to the pathogenic species Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Patterns of sequence variation in sequences from HpuAB proteins were suggestive of recombination and diversifying selection consistent with strong immune selection. HpuAB was subject to repeat-mediated phase variation in pathogenic Neisseria and the closely related non-pathogenic Neisseria species Neisseria lactamica and Neisseria polysaccharea but not in the majority of other commensal Neisseria species. These findings are consistent with HpuAB being subject to frequent genetic transfer potentially limiting the efficacy of this receptor as a vaccine candidate.
Teichoic acids (TAs) are important for growth, biofilm formation, adhesion and virulence of Gram-positive bacterial pathogens. The chemical structures of the TAs vary between bacteria, though they typically consist of zwitterionic polymers that are anchored to either the peptidoglycan layer as in the case of wall teichoic acid (WTA) or the cell membrane and named lipoteichoic acid (LTA). The polymers are modified with d-alanines and a lack of this decoration leads to increased susceptibility to cationic antimicrobial peptides. Four proteins, DltA–D, are essential for the incorporation of d-alanines into cell wall polymers and it has been established that DltA transfers d-alanines in the cytoplasm of the cell onto the carrier protein DltC. However, two conflicting models have been proposed for the remainder of the mechanism. Using a cellular protein localization and membrane topology analysis, we show here that DltC does not traverse the membrane and that DltD is anchored to the outside of the cell. These data are in agreement with the originally proposed model for d-alanine incorporation through a process that has been proposed to proceed via a d-alanine undecaprenyl phosphate membrane intermediate. Furthermore, we found that WTA isolated from a Staphylococcus aureus strain lacking LTA contains only a small amount of d-alanine, indicating that LTA has a role, either direct or indirect, in the efficient d-alanine incorporation into WTA in living cells.
Streptococcus mutans, a causative agent of dental caries in humans, adapts to changing environmental conditions, such as pH, in order to survive and cause disease in the oral cavity. Previously, we have shown that S. mutans increases the proportion of monounsaturated membrane fatty acids as part of its acid-adaptive strategy. Membrane lipids function as carriers of membrane fatty acids and therefore it was hypothesized that lipid backbones themselves could participate in the acid adaptation process. Lipids have been shown to protect other bacterial species from rapid changes in their environment, such as shifts in osmolality and the need for long-term survival. In the present study, we have determined the contribution of cardiolipin (CL) to acid resistance in S. mutans. Two ORFs have been identified in the S. mutans genome that encode presumptive synthetic enzymes for the acidic phospholipids: phosphatidylglycerol (PG) synthase (pgsA, SMU.2151c) and CL synthase (cls, SMU.988), which is responsible for condensing two molecules of PG to create CL. A deletion mutant of the presumptive cls gene was created using PCR-mediated cloning; however, attempts to delete pgsA were unsuccessful, indicating that pgsA may be essential. Loss of the presumptive cls gene resulted in the inability of the mutant strain to produce CL, indicating that SMU.988 encodes CL synthase. The defect in cls rendered the mutant acid sensitive, indicating that CL is required for acid adaptation in S. mutans. Addition of exogenous CL to the mutant strain alleviated acid sensitivity. MS indicated that S. mutans could assimilate exogenous CL into the membrane, halting endogenous CL incorporation. This phenomenon was not due to repression, as a cls gene transcriptional reporter fusion exhibited elevated activity when cells were supplemented with exogenous CL. Lipid analysis, via MS, indicated that CL is a reservoir for monounsaturated fatty acids in S. mutans. We demonstrated that the cls mutant exhibits elevated F-ATPase activity but it is nevertheless unable to maintain the normal membrane proton gradient, indicating cytoplasmic acidification. We conclude that the control of lipid backbone synthesis is part of the acid-adaptive repertoire of S. mutans.
Hydrogenases play many roles in bacterial physiology, and use of H2 by the uptake-type enzymes of animal pathogens is of particular interest. Hydrogenases have never been studied in the pathogen Shigella, so targeted mutant strains were individually generated in the two Shigella flexneri H2-uptake enzymes (Hya and Hyb) and in the H2-evolving enzyme (Hyc) to address their roles. Under anaerobic fermentative conditions, a Hya mutant strain (hya) was unable to oxidize H2, while a Hyb mutant strain oxidized H2 like the wild-type. A hyc strain oxidized more exogenously added hydrogen than the parent. Fluorescence ratio imaging with dye JC-1 (5,5′,6,6′-tetrachloro-1,1′,3,3′-tetraethylbenzimidazolylcarbocyanine iodide) showed that the parent strain generated a membrane potential 15 times greater than hya. The hya mutant was also by far the most acid-sensitive strain, being even more acid-sensitive than a mutant strain in the known acid-combating glutamate-dependent acid-resistance pathway (GDAR pathway). In severe acid-challenge experiments, the addition of glutamate to hya restored survivability, and this ability was attributed in part to the GDAR system (removes intracellular protons) by mutant strain (e.g. hya/gadBC double mutant) analyses. However, mutant strain phenotypes indicated that a larger portion of the glutamate-rescued acid tolerance was independent of GadBC. The acid tolerance of the hya strains was aided by adding chloride ions to the growth medium. The whole-cell Hya enzyme became more active upon acid exposure (20 min), based on assays of hyc. Indeed, the very high rates of Shigella H2 oxidation by Hya in acid can supply each cell with 2.4×108 protons min−1. Electrons generated from Hya-mediated H2 oxidation at the inner membrane likely counteract cytoplasmic positive charge stress, while abundant proton pools deposited periplasmically likely repel proton influx during severe acid stress.
Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus oralis are among the first bacterial species to colonize clean tooth surfaces. Both produce autoinducer-2 (AI-2): a family of inter-convertible cell–cell signal molecules synthesized by the LuxS enzyme. The overall aim of this work was to determine whether AI-2 alters interspecies interactions between S. gordonii DL1 and S. oralis 34 within dual-species biofilms in flowing human saliva. Based upon AI-2 bioluminescence assays, S. gordonii DL1 produced more AI-2 activity than S. oralis 34 in batch culture, and both were able to remove AI-2 activity from solution. In single-species, saliva-fed flowcell systems, S. oralis 34 formed scant biofilms that were similar to the luxS mutant. Conversely, S. gordonii DL1 formed confluent biofilms while the luxS mutant formed architecturally distinct biofilms that possessed twofold greater biovolume than the wild-type. Supplementing saliva with 0.1–10 nM chemically synthesized AI-2 (csAI-2) restored the S. gordonii DL1 luxS biofilm phenotype to that which was similar to the wild-type; above or below this concentration range, biofilms were architecturally similar to that formed by the luxS mutant. In dual-species biofilms, S. gordonii DL1 was always more abundant than S. oralis 34. Compared with dual-species, wild-type biofilms, the biovolume occupied by S. oralis 34 was reduced by greater than sevenfold when neither species produced AI-2. The addition of 1 nM csAI-2 to the dual-species luxS–luxS mutant biofilms re-established the biofilm phenotype to resemble that of the wild-type pair. Thus, this work demonstrates that AI-2 can alter the biofilm structure and composition of pioneering oral streptococcal biofilms. This may influence the subsequent succession of other species into oral biofilms and the ecology of dental plaque.
Bordetella pertussis causes whooping cough, an infectious disease that is reemerging despite widespread vaccination. A more complete understanding of B. pertussis pathogenic mechanisms will involve unravelling the regulation of its impressive arsenal of virulence factors. Here we review the action of the B. pertussis response regulator BvgA in the context of what is known about bacterial RNA polymerase and various modes of transcription activation. At most virulence gene promoters, multiple dimers of phosphorylated BvgA (BvgA~P) bind upstream of the core promoter sequence, using a combination of high- and low-affinity sites that fill through cooperativity. Activation by BvgA~P is typically mediated by a novel form of class I/II mechanisms, but two virulence genes, fim2 and fim3, which encode serologically distinct fimbrial subunits, are regulated using a previously unrecognized RNA polymerase/activator architecture. In addition, the fim genes undergo phase variation because of an extended cytosine (C) tract within the promoter sequences that is subject to slipped-strand mispairing during replication. These sophisticated systems of regulation demonstrate one aspect whereby B. pertussis, which is highly clonal and lacks the extensive genetic diversity observed in many other bacterial pathogens, has been highly successful as an obligate human pathogen.
The cariogenic bacterium Streptococcus mutans has two paralogues of the YidC/Oxa1/Alb3 family of membrane protein insertases/chaperones. Disruption of yidC2 results in loss of genetic competence, decreased membrane-associated ATPase activity and stress sensitivity (acid, osmotic and oxidative). Elimination of yidC1 has less severe effects, with little observable effect on growth or stress sensitivity. To examine the respective roles of YidC1 and YidC2, a conditional expression system was developed allowing simultaneous elimination of both endogenous YidCs. The function of the YidC C-terminal tails was also investigated and a chimeric YidC1 protein appended with the C terminus of YidC2 enabled YidC1 to complement a ΔyidC2 mutant for stress tolerance, ATP hydrolysis activity and extracellular glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) activity. Elimination of yidC1 or yidC2 affected levels of extracellular proteins, including GtfB, GtfC and adhesin P1 (AgI/II, PAc), which were increased without YidC1 but decreased in the absence of YidC2. Both yidC1 and yidC2 were shown to contribute to S. mutans biofilm formation and to cariogenicity in a rat model. Collectively, these results provide evidence that YidC1 and YidC2 contribute to cell surface biogenesis and protein secretion in S. mutans and that differences in stress sensitivity between the ΔyidC1 and ΔyidC2 mutants stem from a functional difference in the C-termini of these two proteins.
Although they lack a cell wall, mycoplasmas do possess a glycocalyx. The interactions between the glycocalyx, mycoplasmal surface proteins and host complement were explored using the murine pathogen Mycoplasma pulmonis as a model. It was previously shown that the length of the tandem repeat region of the surface lipoprotein Vsa is associated with susceptibility to complement-mediated killing. Cells producing a long Vsa containing about 40 repeats are resistant to complement, whereas strains that produce a short Vsa of five or fewer repeats are susceptible. We show here that the length of the Vsa protein modulates the affinity of the M. pulmonis EPS-I polysaccharide for the mycoplasma cell surface, with more EPS-I being associated with mycoplasmas producing a short Vsa protein. An examination of mutants that lack EPS-I revealed that planktonic mycoplasmas were highly susceptible to complement killing even when the Vsa protein was long, demonstrating that both EPS-I and Vsa length contribute to resistance. In contrast, the mycoplasmas were resistant to complement even in the absence of EPS-I when the cells were encased in a biofilm.
The gene designated BAB1_0591 in the Brucella abortus 2308 genome sequence encodes the manganese-cofactored superoxide dismutase SodA. An isogenic sodA mutant derived from B. abortus 2308, designated JB12, displays a small colony phenotype, increased sensitivity in vitro to endogenous superoxide generators, hydrogen peroxide and exposure to acidic pH, and a lag in growth when cultured in rich and minimal media that can be rescued by the addition of all 20 amino acids to the growth medium. B. abortus JB12 exhibits significant attenuation in both cultured murine macrophages and experimentally infected mice, but this attenuation is limited to the early stages of infection. Addition of the NADPH oxidase inhibitor apocynin to infected macrophages does not alleviate the attenuation exhibited by JB12, suggesting that the basis for the attenuation of the B. abortus sodA mutant is not an increased sensitivity to exogenous superoxide generated through the oxidative burst of host phagocytes. It is possible, however, that the increased sensitivity of the B. abortus sodA mutant to acid makes it less resistant than the parental strain to killing by the low pH encountered during the early stages of the development of the brucella-containing vacuoles in macrophages. These experimental findings support the proposed role for SodA as a major cytoplasmic antioxidant in brucella. Although this enzyme provides a clear benefit to B. abortus 2308 during the early stages of infection in macrophages and mice, SodA appears to be dispensable once the brucellae have established an infection.
Signal transduction pathways involving the second messenger cyclic di-GMP [bis-(3′-5′)-cyclic di-guanosine monophosphate] occur widely in bacteria where they act to link perception of environmental or intracellular cues and signals to specific alterations in cellular function. Such alterations can contribute to bacterial lifestyle transitions including biofilm formation and virulence. The cellular levels of the nucleotide are controlled through the opposing activities of diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) and phosphodiesterases (PDEs). The GGDEF domain of DGCs catalyses the synthesis of cyclic di-GMP from GTP, whereas EAL or HD-GYP domains in different classes of PDE catalyse cyclic di-GMP degradation to pGpG and GMP. We are now beginning to understand how alterations in cyclic di-GMP exert a regulatory action through binding to diverse receptors or effectors that include a small ‘adaptor’ protein domain called PilZ, transcription factors and riboswitches. The regulatory action of enzymically active cyclic di-GMP signalling proteins is, however, not restricted to an influence on the level of nucleotide. Here, I will discuss our recent findings that highlight the role that protein–protein interactions involving these signalling proteins have in regulating functions that contribute to bacterial virulence.
Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum is a well-known plant pathogen that causes severe soft rot disease in various crops, resulting in considerable economic loss. To identify pathogenicity-related factors, Chinese cabbage was inoculated with 5314 transposon mutants of P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum Pcc21 derived using Tn5 transposon mutagenesis. A total of 35 reduced-virulence or avirulent mutants were isolated, and 14 loci were identified. The 14 loci could be functionally grouped into nutrient utilization (pyrD, purH, purD, leuA and serB), production of plant cell-wall-degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) (expI, expR and PCC21_023220), motility (flgA, fliA and flhB), biofilm formation (expI, expR and qseC), susceptibility to antibacterial plant chemicals (tolC) and unknown function (ECA2640). Among the 14 genes identified, qseC, tolC and PCC21_023220 are novel pathogenicity factors of P. carotovorum subsp. carotovorum involved in biofilm formation, phytochemical resistance and PCWDE production, respectively.
Synthetic Biology is the ‘Engineering of Biology’ – it aims to use a forward-engineering design cycle based on specifications, modelling, analysis, experimental implementation, testing and validation to modify natural or design new, synthetic biology systems so that they behave in a predictable fashion. Motivated by the need for truly plug-and-play synthetic biological components, we present a comprehensive review of ways in which the various parts of a biological system can be modified systematically. In particular, we review the list of ‘dials’ that are available to the designer and discuss how they can be modelled, tuned and implemented. The dials are categorized according to whether they operate at the global, transcriptional, translational or post-translational level and the resolution that they operate at. We end this review with a discussion on the relative advantages and disadvantages of some dials over others.
The Clostridium difficile toxins A and B are primarily responsible for symptoms of C. difficile associated disease and are prime targets for vaccine development. We describe a plasmid-based system for the production of genetically modified toxins in a non-sporulating strain of C. difficile that lacks the toxin genes tcdA and tcdB. TcdA and TcdB mutations targeting established glucosyltransferase cytotoxicity determinants were introduced into recombinant plasmids and episomally expressed toxin mutants purified from C. difficile transformants. TcdA and TcdB mutants lacking glucosyltransferase and autoproteolytic processing activities were ~10 000-fold less toxic to cultured human IMR-90 cells than corresponding recombinant or native toxins. However, both mutants retained residual cytotoxicity that could be prevented by preincubating the antigens with specific antibodies or by formalin treatment. Such non-toxic formalin-treated mutant antigens were immunogenic and protective in a hamster model of infection. The remaining toxicity of untreated TcdA and TcdB mutant antigens was associated with cellular swelling, a phenotype consistent with pore-induced membrane leakage. TcdB substitution mutations previously shown to block vesicular pore formation and toxin translocation substantially reduced residual toxicity. We discuss the implications of these results for the development of a C. difficile toxoid vaccine.
The mechanisms that allow Streptococcus pyogenes to survive and persist in the human host, often in spite of antibiotic therapy, remain poorly characterized. Therefore, the determination of culture conditions for long-term studies is crucial to advancement in this field. Stationary cultures of S. pyogenes strain NZ131 and its spontaneous small-colony variant OK171 were found to survive in rich medium for less than 2 weeks, and this inability to survive resulted from the acidification of the medium to below pH 5.5, which the cells did not tolerate for longer than 6–7 days. The growth of NZ131 resulted in acidification of the culture to below pH 5.5 by the onset of stationary phase, and the loss of viability occurred in a linear fashion. These results were also found to be true for M49 strain CS101 and for M1 strain SF370. The S. pyogenes strains could be protected from killing by the addition of a buffer that stabilized the pH of the medium at pH 6.5, ensuring bacterial survival to at least 70 days. By contrast, increasing the glucose added to the medium accelerated the loss of culture viability in strain NZ131 but not OK171, suggesting that the small-colony variant is altered in glucose uptake or metabolism. Similarly, acidification of the medium prior to inoculation or at the middle of exponential phase resulted in growth inhibition of all strains. These results suggest that control of the pH is crucial for establishing long-term cultures of S. pyogenes.
Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of nosocomial infections and a major cause of community-acquired infections. Biofilm formation is a key virulence determinant in certain types of S. aureus infection, especially those involving inserted medical devices. We found in a previous study that the calcium chelators sodium citrate and EGTA inhibit biofilm formation in certain strains of S. aureus but actually augment biofilm formation in other strains. Even two closely related strains, Newman and 10833, exhibited strikingly different biofilm phenotypes in the presence of calcium chelators, in that biofilm formation was inhibited in Newman but augmented in 10833. We also found that the surface protein clumping factor B (ClfB) plays a role in this phenomenon. In this study, we confirm that ClfB is required for biofilm formation under calcium-depleted conditions. We investigated the post-translational regulation of ClfB-mediated biofilm formation and found evidence that both calcium and the protease aureolysin disrupt established ClfB-dependent biofilms. Finally, we investigated the genetic basis for the biofilm-negative phenotype in strain Newman versus the biofilm-positive phenotype in strain 10833 under calcium-depleted conditions and found that strain 10833 contains a deletion that results in a stop codon within the aureolysin gene (aur). When 10833 expressed Newman aur, surface-associated ClfB and the ability to form a biofilm in chelating conditions was lost. Thus, the positive effect of chelating agents on biofilm formation in certain strains can be explained by increased ClfB activity in the absence of calcium and the discrepancy in the response of strains 10833 and Newman can be explained by point mutations in aur. This study reveals a previously unknown, to our knowledge, role for ClfB in biofilm formation and underscores the potential for striking phenotypic variability resulting from minor differences in strain background.
Human illness due to Camplyobacter jejuni infection is closely associated with consumption of poultry products. We previously demonstrated a 50 % shift in allele frequency (phase variation) in contingency gene Cj1139 (wlaN) during passage of C. jejuni NCTC11168 populations through Ross 308 broiler chickens. We hypothesized that phase variation in contingency genes during chicken passage could promote subsequent colonization and disease in humans. To test this hypothesis, we passaged C. jejuni strains NCTC11168, 33292, 81-176, KanR4 and CamR2 through broiler chickens and analysed the ability of passaged and non-passaged populations to colonize C57BL6 IL-10-deficient mice, our model for human colonization and disease. We utilized fragment analysis and nucleotide sequence analysis to measure phase variation in contingency genes. Passage through the chicken reservoir promoted phase variation in five specific contingency genes, and these ‘successful’ populations colonized mice. When phase variation did not occur in these same five contingency genes during chicken passage, these ‘unsuccessful’ populations failed to colonize mice. Phase variation during chicken passage generated small insertions or deletions (indels) in the homopolymeric tract (HT) in contingency genes. Single-colony isolates of C. jejuni strain KanR4 carrying an allele of contingency gene Cj0170 with a10G HT colonized mice at high frequency and caused disease symptoms, whereas single-colony isolates carrying the 9G allele failed to colonize mice. Supporting results were observed for the successful 9G allele of Cj0045 in strain 33292. These data suggest that phase variation in Cj0170 and Cj0045 is strongly associated with mouse colonization and disease, and that the chicken reservoir can play an active role in natural selection, phase variation and disease.
Proteolytic control can govern the levels of specific regulatory factors, such as Spx, a transcriptional regulator of the oxidative stress response in Gram-positive bacteria. Under oxidative stress, Spx concentration is elevated and upregulates transcription of genes that function in the stress response. When stress is alleviated, proteolysis of Spx catalysed by ClpXP reduces Spx concentration. Proteolysis is enhanced by the substrate recognition factor YjbH, which possesses a His–Cys-rich region at its N terminus. However, mutations that generate H12A, C13A, H14A, H16A and C31/34A residue substitutions in the N terminus of Bacillus subtilis YjbH (BsYjbH) do not affect functionality in Spx proteolytic control in vivo and in vitro. Because of difficulties in obtaining soluble BsYjbH, the Geobacillus thermodenitrificans yjbH gene was cloned, which yielded soluble GtYjbH protein. Despite its lack of a His–Cys-rich region, GtYjbH complements a B. subtilis yjbH null mutant, and shows high activity in vitro when combined with ClpXP and Spx in an approximately 30 : 1 (ClpXP/Spx : GtYjbH) molar ratio. In vitro interaction experiments showed that Spx and the protease-resistant SpxDD (in which the last two residues of Spx are replaced with two Asp residues) bind to GtYjbH, but deletion of 12 residues from the Spx C terminus (SpxΔC) significantly diminished interaction and proteolytic degradation, indicating that the C terminus of Spx is important for YjbH recognition. These experiments also showed that Spx, but not GtYjbH, interacts with ClpX. Kinetic measurements for Spx proteolysis by ClpXP in the presence and absence of GtYjbH suggest that YjbH overcomes non-productive Spx–ClpX interaction, resulting in rapid degradation.