DNA sensing in Bacillus subtilis
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
1:00 p.m. Room 202 MRB
Professor Christopher V. Rao
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Chemotaxis is the process where cells move in response to external chemical gradients. It has mainly been viewed as a foraging and defense mechanism, enabling bacteria to move towards nutrients or away from toxins. We recently found that the Gram‐positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis performs chemotaxis towards DNA. While DNA can serve as a nutrient for B. subtilis, our results suggest that the chemotaxis response is not to the DNA itself but rather to the information encoded within the DNA. In particular, we found that B. subtilis prefers the DNA from more closely related species. These results suggest that B. subtilis seeks out specific sequences that are likely more abundant in its own and related chromosomes. In this talk, I will discuss the mechanism of DNA sensing and chemotaxis in B. subtilis. I will conclude by discussing the physiological significance of DNA chemotaxis with regards to competence and kin identification.