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Trends Genet. 1996 Jan;12(1):31-4.

Determination of cell fate in Bacillus subtilis.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK.


On starvation, the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis stops dividing and initiates sporulation, a simple developmental process involving the differentiation of two cell types. Sporulation begins with a reorganization of the cell cycle, to produce cells with the size and chromosome content appropriate for the developmental process. The central division that would normally occur, to produce a pair of identical daughter cells, is blocked and the cell divides asymmetrically to produce a small, polar prespore cell and a much larger mother cell. The developmental fates of the two cells are dictated by the localized activation of cell-specific transcription factors, which are controlled by mechanisms that respond to the cellular asymmetry.

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