The bspA locus of Lactobacillus fermentum BR11 encodes an L-cystine uptake system

Mark S. Turner, Tonia Woodberry, Louise M. Hafner, Philip M. Giffard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BspA is a basic surface-exposed protein from Lactobacillus fermentum BR11. Sequence comparisons have shown that it is a member of family III of the solute binding proteins. It is 89% identical to the collagen binding protein, Cnb, from Lactobacillus reuteri. Compared with the database of Escherichia coil proteins, BspA is most similar to the L-cystine binding protein FliY. To investigate the function of BspA, mutants depleted for BspA were generated by homologous recombination with a temperature-sensitive plasmid. These mutants were significantly impaired in their abilities to take up L-cystine. Uptake rates of L-glutamine, L-histidine, and L-lysine, which are substrates for other binding proteins with similarity to BspA, were unaffected. Evidence was obtained that BspA is necessary for maximal resistance to oxidative stress. Specifically, inactivation of BspA causes defective growth in the presence of oxygen and sensitivity to paraquat. Measurements of sulfhydryl levels showed that incubation of L. fermentum BR11 with L-cystine resulted in increased levels of sulfhydryl groups both inside and outside the cell; however, this was not the case with a BspA mutant. The role of BspA as an extracellular matrix protein adhesin was also addressed. L. fermentum BR11 does not bind to immobilized type I collagen or laminin above background levels but does bind immobilized fibronectin. Inactivation of BspA did not significantly affect fibronectin binding; therefore, we have not found evidence to support the notion that BspA is an extracellular matrix protein binding adhesin. As BspA is most probably not a lipoprotein, this report provides evidence that gram-positive bacterial solute binding proteins do not necessarily have to be anchored to the cytoplasmic membrane to function in solute uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2192-2198
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


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