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J Mol Biol. 1987 Jul 5;196(1):1-10.

Genes encoding spore coat polypeptides from Bacillus subtilis.

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Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138.


Endospores of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis are encased in a tough protein shell, known as the coat, that consists of a dozen or more different polypeptides. We have cloned structural genes designated cotA, cotB, cotC and cotD that encode spore coat proteins of Mr 65,000, 59,000, 12,000 and 11,000, respectively. These genes were cloned by using as hybridization probes synthetic oligonucleotides that were designed on the basis of partial NH2-terminal sequence determinations of the purified coat proteins. To determine the location of the cot genes on the chromosome and to study their function genetically, we tagged each gene by insertion of a chloramphenicol-resistance determinant (cat) within its coding sequence. We then replaced each wild-type cot gene in the chromosome with the corresponding, insertionally inactivated gene. Genetic mapping experiments showed that cotA, cotB, cotC and cotD were located at 52 degrees, 290 degrees, 168 degrees and 200 degrees, respectively, on the B. subtilis chromosome. None of the cot::cat insertion mutants were Spo-, but spores of the cotD mutant were found to germinate somewhat more slowly than did wild-type spores, and the cotA mutant was found to be blocked in the appearance of the brown pigment characteristic of colonies of wild-type sporulating cells. Physical and genetic experiments established that cotA was identical to a previously identified gene called pig, known to be responsible for sporulation-associated pigment production. Spores from all four insertion mutants exhibited the wild-type pattern of coat polypeptides, except for the absence in each instance of the corresponding product of the cot gene that had been insertionally inactivated.

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