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J Appl Microbiol. 1999 Jul;87(1):8-14.

Formaldehyde kills spores of Bacillus subtilis by DNA damage and small, acid-soluble spore proteins of the alpha/beta-type protect spores against this DNA damage.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06032, USA.


Killing of wild-type spores of Bacillus subtilis with formaldehyde also caused significant mutagenesis; spores (termed alpha-beta-) lacking the two major alpha/beta-type small, acid-soluble spore proteins (SASP) were more sensitive to both formaldehyde killing and mutagenesis. A recA mutation sensitized both wild-type and alpha-beta- spores to formaldehyde treatment, which caused significant expression of a recA-lacZ fusion when the treated spores germinated. Formaldehyde also caused protein-DNA cross-linking in both wild-type and alpha-beta- spores. These results indicate that: (i) formaldehyde kills B. subtilis spores at least in part by DNA damage and (b) alpha/beta-type SASP protect against spore killing by formaldehyde, presumably by protecting spore DNA.

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