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Curr Biol. 2010 May 25;20(10):934-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2010.03.060. Epub 2010 May 6.

A distance-weighted interaction map reveals a previously uncharacterized layer of the Bacillus subtilis spore coat.

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Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, Department of Biology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Bacillus subtilis spores are encased in a protein assembly called the spore coat that is made up of at least 70 different proteins. Conventional electron microscopy shows the coat to be organized into two distinct layers. Because the coat is about as wide as the theoretical limit of light microscopy, quantitatively measuring the localization of individual coat proteins within the coat is challenging. We used fusions of coat proteins to green fluorescent protein to map genetic dependencies for coat assembly and to define three independent subnetworks of coat proteins. To complement the genetic data, we measured coat protein localization at subpixel resolution and integrated these two data sets to produce a distance-weighted genetic interaction map. Using these data, we predict that the coat comprises at least four spatially distinct layers, including a previously uncharacterized glycoprotein outermost layer that we name the spore crust. We found that crust assembly depends on proteins we predicted to localize to the crust. The crust may be conserved in all Bacillus spores and may play critical functions in the environment.

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