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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Sep;6(18):2565-71.

Septal membrane fusion--a pivotal event in bacterial spore formation?

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.


Formation of the asymmetrically located septum divides sporulating bacilli into two distinct cells: the mother cell and the prespore. The rigidifying wall material in the septum is subsequently removed by autolysis. Examination of published electron micrographs indicates that the two septal membranes then fuse to form a single membrane. Membrane fusion would be expected to have profound consequences for subsequent development. For example, it is suggested that fusion activates processing of pro-sigma E to sigma E in the cytoplasm by exposing it to a membrane-bound processing enzyme. Asymmetry of the fused membrane could restrict processing to one face of the membrane and hence explain why sigma E is associated with transcription in the mother cell but not in the prespore. Asymmetry of the fused membrane might also provide a mechanism for restricting the activity of another factor, sigma F, to the prespore. Attachment of the flexible fused septal membrane to the condensing prespore nucleoid could help drive the engulfment of the prespore by the mother cell.

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