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J Bacteriol. 2011 Sep;193(18):4664-71. doi: 10.1128/JB.05343-11. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Synergism between different germinant receptors in the germination of Bacillus subtilis spores.

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Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-3305, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Bacteriol. 2011 Nov;193(21):6111.


Rates of commitment to germinate and germination of Bacillus subtilis spores with mixtures of low concentrations of germinants acting on different germinant receptors (GRs) were much higher than the sums of the rates of commitment and germination with individual germinants alone. This synergism with mixtures of nutrient germinants was not seen with spores lacking GRs responsible for recognizing one or several components of the germinant mixtures and was not eliminated by either a gerD mutation or overexpression of one of the GRs involved in this synergism. This synergism was also not seen between the germinant L-valine, which acts via a GR, and the germinant dodecylamine, which does not act via any GR. These results indicate that spores not only integrate but can also amplify signals from multiple germinants and multiple GRs in determining rates of commitment and overall spore germination. This amplification can be explained by a simple mechanism in which a single signal integrator triggers germination above an accumulation threshold. Direct cooperative action between GRs may further add to the synergism seen in germination triggered by multiple GRs. Further experiments and modeling are required to determine the relative contributions of these different mechanisms.

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