A conjugation-like mechanism for prespore chromosome partitioning during sporulation in Bacillus subtilis

Genes Dev. 1995 Jun 1;9(11):1316-26. doi: 10.1101/gad.9.11.1316.


Spore formation in Bacillus subtilis begins with an asymmetric cell division that superficially resembles the division of vegetative cells. Mutations in the spoIIIE gene of B. subtilis partially block partitioning of one chromosome into the smaller (prespore) compartment of the sporulating cell. Point mutations that specifically block prespore chromosome partitioning affect a carboxy-terminal domain of SpoIIIE that shows significant sequence similarity to the DNA transfer (Tra) proteins of several conjugative plasmids of Streptomyces. In wild-type sporulating cells, the prespore chromosome passes through an intermediate stage resembling the state in which spoIIIE mutant cells are blocked. The prespore chromosome is then transferred progressively through the newly formed spore septum. We propose that translocation of the prespore chromosome occurs by a mechanism that is functionally related to the conjugative transfer of plasmid DNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / physiology*
  • Base Sequence
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Conjugation, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Spores, Bacterial / physiology*

Associated data

  • GENBANK/D14281
  • GENBANK/Z19593
  • PIR/P22409