Germination of Bacillus subtilis spores is normally initiated when nutrients from the environment interact with germinant receptors (GRs) in the spores' inner membrane (IM), in which most of the lipids are immobile. GRs and another germination protein, GerD, colocalize in the IM of dormant spores in a small focus termed the "germinosome," and this colocalization or focus formation is dependent upon GerD, which is also essential for rapid GR-dependent spore germination. To determine the fate of the germinosome and germination proteins during spore germination and outgrowth, we employed differential interference microscopy and epifluorescence microscopy to track germinating spores with fluorescent fusions to germination proteins and used Western blot analyses to measure germination protein levels. We found that after initiation of spore germination, the germinosome foci ultimately changed into larger disperse patterns, with ≥ 75% of spore populations displaying this pattern in spores germinated for 1 h, although >80% of spores germinated for 30 min retained the germinosome foci. Western blot analysis revealed that levels of GR proteins and the SpoVA proteins essential for dipicolinic acid release changed minimally during this period, although GerD levels decreased ∼ 50% within 15 min in germinated spores. Since the dispersion of the germinosome during germination was slower than the decrease in GerD levels, either germinosome stability is not compromised by ∼ 2-fold decreases in GerD levels or other factors, such as restoration of rapid IM lipid mobility, are also significant in germinosome dispersion as spore germination proceeds.
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