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J Microbiol Methods. 2013 Apr;93(1):58-67. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2013.01.019. Epub 2013 Feb 11.

A genetic approach for the identification of exosporium assembly determinants of Bacillus anthracis.

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Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, United States.


The exosporium is the outermost layer of spores of the zoonotic pathogen Bacillus anthracis. The composition of the exosporium and its functions are only partly understood. Because this outer spore layer is refractive to traditional biochemical analysis, a genetic approach is needed in order to define the proteins which comprise this important spore layer and its assembly pathway. We have created a novel genetic screening system for the identification and isolation of mutants with defects in exosporium assembly during B. anthracis spore maturation. The system is based on the targeting sequence of the BclA exosporium nap layer glycoprotein and a fluorescent reporter. By utilizing this screening system and gene inactivation with Tn916, several novel putative exosporium-associated determinants were identified. A sampling of the mutants obtained was further characterized, confirming their exosporium defect and validating the utility of this screen to identify novel spore determinants in the genome of this pathogen.

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