About Predicting the Structure and Dynamics of Membrane Protein GerAB from Bacillus subtilis

Authors: Sophie Blinker, Jocelyne Vreeede, Peter Setlow, and Stanley Brul

Bacillus subtilis forms dormant spores upon nutrient depletion. Germinant receptors (GRs) in spore’s inner membrane respond to ligands such as L-alanine, and trigger spore germination. In B. subtilis spores, GerA is the major GR, and has three subunits, GerAA, GerAB, and GerAC. L-Alanine activation of GerA requires all three subunits, but which binds L-alanine is unknown. To date, how GRs trigger germination is unknown, in particular due to lack of detailed structural information about B subunits. Using homology modelling with molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, we present structural predictions for the integral membrane protein GerAB. These predictions indicate that GerAB is an α
-helical transmembrane protein containing a water channel. The MD simulations with free L-alanine show that alanine binds transiently to specific sites on GerAB. These results provide a starting point for unraveling the mechanism of L-alanine mediated signaling by GerAB, which may facilitate early events in spore germination.

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