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Morphogenesis of Bacillus Spore Surfaces

By Venkata G. R. Chada, Erik A. Sanstad, Rong Wang and Adam Driks


Spores produced by bacilli are encased in a proteinaceous multilayered coat and, in some species (including Bacillus anthracis), further surrounded by a glycoprotein-containing exosporium. To characterize bacillus spore surface morphology and to identify proteins that direct formation of coat surface features, we used atomic-force microscopy (AFM) to image the surfaces of wild-type and mutant spores of Bacillus subtilis, as well as the spore surfaces of Bacillus cereus 569 and the Sterne strain of Bacillus anthracis. This analysis revealed that the coat surfaces in these strains are populated by a series of bumps ranging between 7 and 40 nm in diameter, depending on the species. Furthermore, a series of ridges encircled the spore, most of which were oriented along the long axis of the spore. The structures of these ridges differ sufficiently between species to permit species-specific identification. We propose that ridges are formed early in spore formation, when the spore volume likely decreases, and that when the spore swells during germination the ridges unfold. AFM analysis of a set of B. subtilis coat protein gene mutants revealed three coat proteins with roles in coat surface morphology: CotA, CotB, and CotE. Our data indicate novel roles for CotA and CotB in ridge pattern formation. Taken together, these results are consistent with the view that the coat is not inert. Rather, the coat is a dynamic structure that accommodates changes in spore volume

Topics: Microbial Cell Biology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1128/JB.185.21.6255-6261.2003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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