Function of the SpoVAEa and SpoVAF proteins of Bacillus subtilis spores.
ABSTRACT: The Bacillus subtilis spoVAEa and spoVAF genes are expressed in developing spores as members of the spoVA operon, which encodes proteins essential for the uptake and release of dipicolinic acid (DPA) during spore formation and germination. SpoVAF is likely an integral inner spore membrane protein and exhibits sequence identity to A subunits of the spore's nutrient germinant receptors (GRs), while SpoVAEa is a soluble protein with no obvious signals to allow its passage across a membrane. However, like SpoVAD, SpoVAEa is present on the outer surface of the spore's inner membrane, as SpoVAEa was accessible to an external biotinylation agent in spores and SpoVAEa disappeared in parallel with SpoVAD during proteinase K treatment of germinated spores. SpoVAEa and SpoVAD were also distributed similarly in fractions of disrupted dormant spores. Unlike spoVAD, spoVAEa is absent from the genomes of some spore-forming members of the Bacillales and Clostridiales orders, although SpoVAEa's amino acid sequence is conserved in species containing spoVAEa. B. subtilis strains lacking SpoVAF or SpoVAEa and SpoVAF sporulated normally, and the spores had normal DPA levels. Spores lacking SpoVAF or SpoVAEa and SpoVAF also germinated normally with non-GR-dependent germinants but more slowly than wild-type spores with GR-dependent germinants, and this germination defect was complemented by ectopic expression of the missing proteins.
Project description:<h4>Unlabelled</h4>Bacterial spores, despite being metabolically dormant, possess the remarkable capacity to detect nutrients and other molecules in their environment through a biochemical sensory apparatus that can trigger spore germination, allowing the return to vegetative growth within minutes of exposure of germinants. We demonstrate here that bacterial spores of multiple species retain memory of transient exposures to germinant stimuli that can result in altered responses to subsequent exposure. The magnitude and decay of these memory effects depend on the pulse duration as well as on the separation time, incubation temperature, and pH values between the pulses. Spores of Bacillus species germinate in response to nutrients that interact with germinant receptors (GRs) in the spore's inner membrane, with different nutrient types acting on different receptors. In our experiments, B. subtilis spores display memory when the first and second germinant pulses target different receptors, suggesting that some components of spore memory are downstream of GRs. Furthermore, nonnutrient germinants, which do not require GRs, exhibit memory either alone or in combination with nutrient germinants, and memory of nonnutrient stimulation is found to be more persistent than that induced by GR-dependent stimuli. Spores of B. cereus and Clostridium difficile also exhibit germination memory, suggesting that memory may be a general property of bacterial spores. These observations along with experiments involving strains with mutations in various germination proteins suggest a model in which memory is stored primarily in the metastable states of SpoVA proteins, which comprise a channel for release of dipicolinic acid, a major early event in spore germination.<h4>Importance</h4>Cellular memory is defined as a sustained response to a transient environmental stimulus, and yet its generation and storage have not been described in bacterial spores. We demonstrate here that bacterial spores of multiple species retain memory of transient exposures to germinant stimuli that can result in altered responses to subsequent exposure. Memory was induced by activation of germinant receptors (GRs) or by GR-independent germinants and was accessed by both GR-dependent and GR-independent germinants. Analysis of effects on memory of exposure to GR-dependent and GR-independent germinants as well as in spores lacking various germination proteins suggests a model in which memory is stored primarily in metastable states of SpoVA proteins which comprise a channel for release of spore dipicolinic acid. Spore memory can also significantly reduce the concentration of nutrient germinants necessary to trigger germination, and this may be used to respond to low levels of nutrient germinants.
Project description:When exposed to nutrient or nonnutrient germinants, individual Bacillus spores can return to life through germination followed by outgrowth. Laser tweezers, Raman spectroscopy, and either differential interference contrast or phase-contrast microscopy were used to analyze the slow dipicolinic acid (DPA) leakage (normally ?20% of spore DPA) from individual spores that takes place prior to the lag time, Tlag, when spores begin rapid release of remaining DPA. Major conclusions from this work with Bacillus subtilis spores were as follows: (i) slow DPA leakage from wild-type spores germinating with nutrients did not begin immediately after nutrient exposure but only at a later heterogeneous time T1; (ii) the period of slow DPA leakage (?Tleakage = Tlag - T1) was heterogeneous among individual spores, although the amount of DPA released in this period was relatively constant; (iii) increases in germination temperature significantly decreased T1 times but increased values of ?Tleakage; (iv) upon germination with l-valine for 10 min followed by addition of d-alanine to block further germination, all germinated spores had T1 times of less than 10 min, suggesting that T1 is the time when spores become committed to germinate; (v) elevated levels of SpoVA proteins involved in DPA movement in spore germination decreased T1 and Tlag times but not the amount of DPA released in ?Tleakage; (vi) lack of the cortex-lytic enzyme CwlJ increased DPA leakage during germination due to longer ?Tleakage times in which more DPA was released; and (vii) there was slow DPA leakage early in germination of B. subtilis spores by the nonnutrients CaDPA and dodecylamine and in nutrient germination of Bacillus cereus and Bacillus megaterium spores. Overall, these findings have identified and characterized a new early event in Bacillus spore germination.
Project description:The simultaneous nutrient germination of hundreds of individual wild-type spores of three Bacillus species and a number of Bacillus subtilis strains has been measured by two new methods, and rates of release of the great majority of the large pool of dipicolinic acid (DPA) from individual spores of B. subtilis strains has been measured by Raman spectroscopy with laser tweezers. The results from these analyses and published data have allowed a number of significant conclusions about the germination of spores of Bacillus species as follows. (i) The time needed for release of the great majority of a Bacillus spore's DPA once rapid DPA release had begun (DeltaT(release)) during nutrient germination was independent of the concentration of nutrient germinant used, the level of the germinant receptors (GRs) that recognize nutrient germinants used and heat activation prior to germination. Values for DeltaT(release) were generally 0.5 to 3 min at 25 to 37 degrees C for individual wild-type spores. (ii) Despite the conclusion above, germination of individual spores in populations was very heterogeneous, with some spores in wild-type populations completing germination > or = 15-fold slower than others. (iii) The major factor in the heterogeneity in germination of individual spores in populations was the highly variable lag time, T(lag), between mixing spores with nutrient germinants and the beginning of DeltaT(release). (iv) A number of factors decrease spores' T(lag) values including heat activation, increased levels of GRs/spore, and higher levels of nutrient germinants. These latter factors appear to affect the level of activated GRs/spore during nutrient germination. (v) The conclusions above lead to the simple prediction that a major factor causing heterogeneity in Bacillus spore germination is the number of functional GRs in individual spores, a number that presumably varies significantly between spores in populations.
Project description:Clostridial spore germination requires degradation of the spore's peptidoglycan (PG) cortex by cortex-lytic enzymes (CLEs), and two Clostridium perfringens CLEs, SleC and SleM, degrade cortex PG in vitro. We now find that only SleC is essential for cortex hydrolysis and viability of C. perfringens spores. C. perfringens sleC spores did not germinate completely with nutrients, KCl, or a 1:1 chelate of Ca(2+) and dipicolinic acid (Ca-DPA), and the colony-forming efficiency of sleC spores was 10(3)-fold lower than that of wild-type spores. However, sleC spores incubated with various germinants released most of their DPA, although slower than wild-type or sleM spores, and DPA release from sleC sleM spores was very slow. In contrast, germination and viability of sleM spores were similar to that of wild-type spores, although sleC sleM spores had 10(5)-fold-lower viability. These results allow the following conclusions about C. perfringens spore germination: (i) SleC is essential for cortex hydrolysis; (ii) although SleM can degrade cortex PG in vitro, this enzyme is not essential; (iii) action of SleC alone or with SleM can accelerate DPA release; and (iv) Ca-DPA does not trigger spore germination by activation of CLEs.
Project description: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.
Project description:The Gram-positive spore-forming anaerobe Clostridium difficile is a leading cause of nosocomial diarrhea. Spores of C. difficile initiate infection when triggered to germinate by bile salts in the gastrointestinal tract. We analyzed germination kinetics of individual C. difficile spores using Raman spectroscopy and differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy. Similar to Bacillus spores, individual C. difficile spores germinating with taurocholate plus glycine began slow leakage of a ?15% concentration of a chelate of Ca(2+) and dipicolinic acid (CaDPA) at a heterogeneous time T1, rapidly released CaDPA at Tlag, completed CaDPA release at Trelease, and finished peptidoglycan cortex hydrolysis at Tlysis. T1 and Tlag values for individual spores were heterogeneous, but ?Trelease periods (Trelease - Tlag) were relatively constant. In contrast to Bacillus spores, heat treatment did not stimulate spore germination in the two C. difficile strains tested. C. difficile spores did not germinate with taurocholate or glycine alone, and different bile salts differentially promoted spore germination, with taurocholate and taurodeoxycholate being best. Transient exposure of spores to taurocholate plus glycine was sufficient to commit individual spores to germinate. C. difficile spores did not germinate with CaDPA, in contrast to B. subtilis and C. perfringens spores. However, the detergent dodecylamine induced C. difficile spore germination, and rates were increased by spore coat removal although cortex hydrolysis did not follow Trelease, in contrast with B. subtilis. C. difficile spores lacking the cortex-lytic enzyme, SleC, germinated extremely poorly, and cortex hydrolysis was not observed in the few sleC spores that partially germinated. Overall, these findings indicate that C. difficile and B. subtilis spore germination exhibit key differences.Spores of the Gram-positive anaerobe Clostridium difficile are responsible for initiating infection by this important nosocomial pathogen. When exposed to germinants such as bile salts, C. difficile spores return to life through germination in the gastrointestinal tract and cause disease, but their germination has been studied only with population-wide measurements. In this work we used Raman spectroscopy and DIC microscopy to monitor the kinetics of germination of individual C. difficile spores, the commitment of spores to germination, and the effect of germinant type and concentration, sublethal heat shock, and spore decoating on germination. Our data suggest that the order of germination events in C. difficile spores differs from that in Bacillus spores and provide new insights into C. difficile spore germination.
Project description:Bacterial endospores exhibit extreme resistance to most conditions that rapidly kill other life forms, remaining viable in this dormant state for centuries or longer. While the majority of Bacillus subtilis dormant spores germinate rapidly in response to nutrient germinants, a small subpopulation termed superdormant spores are resistant to germination, potentially evading antibiotic and/or decontamination strategies. In an effort to better understand the underlying mechanisms of superdormancy, membrane-associated proteins were isolated from populations of B. subtilis dormant, superdormant, and germinated spores, and the relative abundance of 11 germination-related proteins was determined using multiple-reaction-monitoring liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry assays. GerAC, GerKC, and GerD were significantly less abundant in the membrane fractions obtained from superdormant spores than those derived from dormant spores. The amounts of YpeB, GerD, PrkC, GerAC, and GerKC recovered in membrane fractions decreased significantly during germination. Lipoproteins, as a protein class, decreased during spore germination, while YpeB appeared to be specifically degraded. Some protein abundance differences between membrane fractions of dormant and superdormant spores resemble protein changes that take place during germination, suggesting that the superdormant spore isolation procedure may have resulted in early, non-committal germination-associated changes. In addition to low levels of germinant receptor proteins, a deficiency in the GerD lipoprotein may contribute to heterogeneity of spore germination rates. Understanding the reasons for superdormancy may allow for better spore decontamination procedures.
Project description:Spore germination is the first step to Bacillus anthracis pathogenicity. Previous work has shown that B. anthracis spores use germination (Ger) receptors to recognize amino acids and nucleosides as germinants. Genetic analysis has putatively paired each individual Ger receptor with a specific germinant. However, Ger receptors seem to be able to partially compensate for each other and recognize alternative germinants. Using kinetic analysis of B. anthracis spores germinated with inosine and L-alanine, we previously determined kinetic parameters for this germination process and showed binding synergy between the cogerminants. In this work, we expanded our kinetic analysis to determine kinetic parameters and binding order for every B. anthracis spore germinant pair. Our results show that germinant binding can exhibit positive, neutral, or negative cooperativity. Furthermore, different germinants can bind spores by either a random or an ordered mechanism. Finally, simultaneous triggering of multiple germination pathways shows that germinants can either cooperate or interfere with each other during the spore germination process. We postulate that the complexity of germination responses may allow B. anthracis spores to respond to different environments by activating different germination pathways.
Project description:Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobic spore forming bacterium that produces the potent botulinum neurotoxin that causes a severe and fatal neuro-paralytic disease of humans and animals (botulism). C. botulinum Group II is a psychrotrophic saccharolytic bacterium that forms spores of moderate heat resistance and is a particular hazard in minimally heated chilled foods. Spore germination is a fundamental process that allows the spore to transition to a vegetative cell and typically involves a germinant receptor (GR) that responds to environmental signals. Analysis of C. botulinum Group II genomes shows they contain a single GR cluster (gerX3b), and an additional single gerA subunit (gerXAO). Spores of C. botulinum Group II strain Eklund 17B germinated in response to the addition of L-alanine, but did not germinate following the addition of exogenous Ca2+-DPA. Insertional inactivation experiments in this strain unexpectedly revealed that the orphan GR GerXAO is essential for L-alanine stimulated germination. GerX3bA and GerX3bC affected the germination rate but were unable to induce germination in the absence of GerXAO. No role could be identified for GerX3bB. This is the first study to identify the functional germination receptor of C. botulinum Group II.
Project description:The proteins encoded by the spoVA operon, including SpoVAD, are essential for the uptake of the 1:1 chelate of pyridine-2,6-dicarboxylic acid (DPA(2,6)) and Ca(2+) into developing spores of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis. The crystal structure of B. subtilis SpoVAD has been determined recently, and a structural homology search revealed that SpoVAD shares significant structural similarity but not sequence homology to a group of enzymes that bind to and/or act on small aromatic molecules. We find that molecular docking placed DPA(2,6) exclusively in a highly conserved potential substrate-binding pocket in SpoVAD that is similar to that in the structurally homologous enzymes. We further demonstrate that SpoVAD binds both DPA(2,6) and Ca(2+)-DPA(2,6) with a similar affinity, while exhibiting markedly weaker binding to other DPA isomers. Importantly, mutations of conserved amino acid residues in the putative DPA(2,6)-binding pocket in SpoVAD essentially abolish its DPA(2,6)-binding capacity. Moreover, replacement of the wild-type spoVAD gene in B. subtilis with any of these spoVAD gene variants effectively eliminated DPA(2,6) uptake into developing spores in sporulation, although the variant proteins were still located in the spore inner membrane. Our results provide direct evidence that SpoVA proteins, in particular SpoVAD, are directly involved in DPA(2,6) movement into developing B. subtilis spores.