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J Bacteriol. 2013 Jul;195(13):3009-21. doi: 10.1128/JB.00257-13. Epub 2013 Apr 26.

Identification of new proteins that modulate the germination of spores of bacillus species.

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Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA.


A number of operons encoding the nutrient germinant receptors (GRs) in dormant spores of Bacillus megaterium and Bacillus subtilis species have small open reading frames (ORFs) of unknown function within or immediately adjacent to the operons. Inactivation of the genes in these ORFs, encoding proteins now termed D proteins, either significantly increased or decreased spore germination via the associated GR but had no effects on germination via non-GR-dependent germinants. These effects on GR-dependent germination were complemented by ectopic expression of the appropriate D gene (gene encoding D protein). However, substitution of noncognate D genes in two GR operons resulted in inhibition of germination via the GR manipulated, although ectopic overexpression of a D gene had no effect on overall GR-dependent germination. The various D genes studied were expressed in the forespore during sporulation in parallel with the associated GR operon, and transcription of a B. subtilis D gene was controlled by RNA polymerase sigma factor σ(G). These results indicate that proteins encoded by small ORFs within or adjacent to operons encoding GRs play major roles in modulating GR function in spores of Bacillus species. In B. subtilis, deletion of a D gene (B. subtilis gerKD [gerKDbs]) adjacent to the gerK operon encoding the GerK GR or ectopic expression or overexpression of gerKDbs had no major effect on the levels of GR subunits or of two other germination proteins.

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