Dynamics of spore coat morphogenesis in Bacillus subtilis

Mol Microbiol. 2012 Jan;83(2):245-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2011.07936.x. Epub 2011 Dec 15.


Spores of Bacillus subtilis are encased in a protective coat made up of at least 70 proteins. The structure of the spore coat has been examined using a variety of genetic, imaging and biochemical techniques; however, the majority of these studies have focused on mature spores. In this study we use a library of 41 spore coat proteins fused to the green fluorescent protein to examine spore coat morphogenesis over the time-course of sporulation. We found considerable diversity in the localization dynamics of coat proteins and were able to establish six classes based on localization kinetics. Localization dynamics correlate well with the known transcriptional regulators of coat gene expression. Previously, we described the existence of multiple layers in the mature spore coat. Here, we find that the spore coat initially assembles a scaffold that is organized into multiple layers on one pole of the spore. The coat then encases the spore in multiple co-ordinated waves. Encasement is driven, at least partially, by transcription of coat genes and deletion of sporulation transcription factors arrests encasement. We also identify the trans-compartment SpoIIIAH-SpoIIQ channel as necessary for encasement. This is the first demonstration of a forespore contribution to spore coat morphogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / cytology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Spores / cytology*
  • Spores / metabolism*
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Time Factors


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • spore-specific proteins, Bacillus
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins