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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Oct;70(2):421-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06420.x. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Targeting of the BclA and BclB proteins to the Bacillus anthracis spore surface.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


The exosporium is the outermost layer of the Bacillus anthracis spore. The predominant protein on the exosporium surface is BclA, a collagen-like glycoprotein. BclA is incorporated on the spore surface late in the B. anthracis sporulation pathway. A second collagen-like protein, BclB, has been shown to be surface-exposed on B. anthracis spores. We have identified sequences near the N-terminus of the BclA and BclB glycoproteins responsible for the incorporation of these proteins into the exosporium layer of the spore and used these targeting domains to incorporate reporter fluorescent proteins onto the spore surface. The BclA and BclB proteins are expressed in the mother cell cytoplasm and become spore-associated in a two-step process involving first association of the protein with the spore surface followed by attachment of the protein in a process that involves a proteolytic cleavage event. Protein domains associated with each of these events have been identified. This novel targeting system can be exploited to incorporate foreign proteins into the exosporium of inactivated, spores resulting in the surface display of recombinant immunogens for use as a potential vaccine delivery system.

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