Caister Academic Press

Genomics and Cellular Biology of Endospore Formation

Patrick Eichenberger
from: Bacillus: Cellular and Molecular Biology (Third edition) (Edited by: Peter L. Graumann). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2017) Pages: 333-366.


Many species of the classes Bacilli and Clostridia can be found in two distinct states. In the vegetative state, these bacteria are metabolically active and use available nutrients to grow and divide by binary fission, a process that generates two identical daughter cells. By contrast, when nutrients are scarce, a developmental program of endospore formation (sporulation) is initiated, resulting in the production of highly resistant spores. In the spore state, bacteria are metabolically dormant, and their genetic material, protected in the core of the spore, can endure a variety of challenges, including exposure to radiation, elevated temperatures and noxious chemicals. Sporulation is a complex process, which requires the generation of two distinct cell types: a forespore and a mother cell. The progression of the developmental program is controlled by two exquisitely regulated cell type-specific lines of gene expression that run in parallel and are connected through signaling systems. In the model organism Bacillus subtilis, various genetic screens and genome-wide transcriptional analyses have identified more than 600 genes that are expressed in the course of sporulation. The function of several of these genes has been characterized in detail and subcellular localization data are available for more than 100 sporulation proteins. Thus, sporulation constitutes one of the best-characterized developmental programs at the molecular and cellular levels read more ...
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