Sporulation is a microbial adaptive strategy to resist inhospitable conditions for vegetative growth and to disperse to colonise more favourable environments. This microbial trait is widespread in Actinobacteria. Among them, Frankia strains are able to differentiate sporangia in pure culture, while others can sporulate even when in symbiosis with sporulation occurring within host cells. The molecular determinants controlling Frankia sporulation have not been yet described. In order to highlight, for the first time, the molecular players potentially involved in Frankia sporulation, we conducted (i) a comparison of protein contents between Frankia spores and hyphae and (ii) a comparative genomic analysis of Frankia proteomes with sporulating and non-sporulating Actinobacteria. Among the main results, glycogen-metabolism related proteins, as well as oxidative stress response and protease-like proteins were overdetected in hyphae, recalling lytic processes that allow Streptomyces cells to erect sporogenic hyphae. Several genes encoding transcriptional regulators, including GntR-like, appeared up-regulated in spores, as well as tyrosinase, suggesting their potential role in mature spore metabolism. Finally, our results highlighted new proteins potentially involved in Frankia sporulation, including a pyrophosphate-energized proton pump and YaaT, described as involved in the phosphorelay allowing sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, leading us to discuss the role of a phosphorelay in Frankia sporulation.
Keywords: Actinorhizal symbiosis; Desiccation; Frankia sporulation; Secondary metabolites; Starvation.
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