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Proteins Encoded by the gerP Operon Are Localized to the Inner Coat in Bacillus cereus Spores and Are Dependent on GerPA and SafA for Assembly.

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Ghosh, Abhinaba 
Manton, James D 
Mustafa, Amin R 
Gupta, Mudit 
Ayuso-Garcia, Alejandro 


The germination of Bacillus spores is triggered by certain amino acids and sugar molecules which permeate the outermost layers of the spore to interact with receptor complexes that reside in the inner membrane. Previous studies have shown that mutations in the hexacistronic gerP locus reduce the rate of spore germination, with experimental evidence indicating that the defect stems from reduced permeability of the spore coat to germinant molecules. Here, we use the ellipsoid localization microscopy technique to reveal that all six Bacillus cereus GerP proteins share proximity with cortex-lytic enzymes within the inner coat. We also reveal that the GerPA protein alone can localize in the absence of all other GerP proteins and that it has an essential role for the localization of all other GerP proteins within the spore. Its essential role is also demonstrated to be dependent on SafA, but not CotE, for localization, which is consistent with an inner coat location. GerP-null spores are shown also to have reduced permeability to fluorescently labeled dextran molecules compared to wild-type spores. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that the GerP proteins have a structural role within the spore associated with coat permeability.IMPORTANCE The bacterial spore coat comprises a multilayered proteinaceous structure that influences the distribution, survival, and germination properties of spores in the environment. The results from the current study are significant since they increase our understanding of coat assembly and architecture while adding detail to existing models of germination. We demonstrate also that the ellipsoid localization microscopy (ELM) image analysis technique can be used as a novel tool to provide direct quantitative measurements of spore coat permeability. Progress in all of these areas should ultimately facilitate improved methods of spore control in a range of industrial, health care, and environmental sectors.



Bacillus, coat, germination, permeability, spore, spore coat, spores, Bacillus cereus, Bacterial Proteins, Cell Wall, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Genes, Bacterial, Mutation, Operon, Permeability, Spores, Bacterial

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Appl Environ Microbiol

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American Society for Microbiology
EPSRC (1503810)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015889/1)
1. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications (EP/L015889/1) 2. Cambridge Nehru Scholarship 3. Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation 4. MedImmune