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Methods. 2000 Jan;20(1):95-110.

Structure and assembly of the bacterial endospore coat.

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School of Medicine, Emory University, 3001 Rollins Research Center, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Many biological processes are mediated through the action of multiprotein complexes, often assembled at specific cellular locations. Bacterial endospores for example, are encased in a proteinaceous coat, which confers resistance to lysozyme and harsh chemicals and influences the spore response to germinants. In Bacillus subtilis, the coat is composed of more than 20 polypeptides, organized into three main layers: an amorphous undercoat; a lamellar, lightly staining inner structure; and closely apposed to it, a striated electron-dense outer coat. Synthesis of the coat proteins is temporally and spatially governed by a cascade of four mother cell-specific transcription factors. However, the order of assembly and final destination of the coat structural components may rely mainly on specific protein-protein interactions, as well as on the action of accessory morphogenetic proteins. Proteolytic events, protein-protein crosslinking, and protein glycosylation also play a role in the assembly process. These modifications are carried out by enzymes that may themselves be targeted to the coat layers. Coat genes have been identified by reverse genetics or, more recently, by screens for mother cell-specific promoters or for peptide sequences able to interact with certain bait proteins. A role for a given locus in coat assembly is established by a combination of regulatory, functional, morphological, and topological criteria. Because of the amenability of B. subtilis to genetic analysis (now facilitated by the knowledge of its genome sequence), coat formation has become an attractive model for the assembly of complex macromolecular structures during development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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