Characterization of germination receptors of Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579

L.M. Hornstra, Y.P. de Vries, M.H.J. Wells-Bennik, W.M. de Vos, T. Abee

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Specific amino acids, purine ribonucleosides, or a combination of the two is required for efficient germination of endospores of Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579. A survey including 20 different amino acids showed that L-alanine, L-cysteine, L-threonine, and L-glutamine are capable of initiating the germination of endospores of B. cereus ATCC 14579. In addition, the purine ribonucleosides inosine and adenosine can trigger germination of the spores. Advanced annotation of the B. cereus ATCC 14579 genome revealed the presence of seven putative germination (ger) operons, termed gerG, gerI, gerK, gerL, gerQ, gerR, and gerS. To determine the role of the encoded putative receptors in nutrient-induced germination, disruption mutants were constructed by the insertion of pMUTIN4 into each of the seven operons. Four of the seven mutants were affected in the germination response to amino acids or purine ribonucleosides, whereas no phenotype could be attributed to the mutants with disrupted gerK, gerL, and gerS loci. The strain with a disrupted gerR operon was severely hampered in the ability to germinate: germination occurred in response to L-glutamine but not in the presence of any of the other amino acids tested. The gerG mutant showed significantly reduced L-glutamine-induced germination, which points to a role of this receptor in the L-glutamine germination signaling pathway. gerR, gerI, and gerQ mutants showed reduced germination rates in the presence of inosine, suggesting a role for these operons in ribonucleoside signaling. Efficient germination by the combination of L-glutamine and inosine was shown to involve the gerG and gerI operons, since the germination of mutants lacking either one of these receptors was significantly reduced. Germination triggered by the combination of L-phenylalanine and inosine was lost in the gerI mutant, indicating that both molecules are effective at the GerI receptor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • spore germination
  • l-alanine
  • nucleotide-sequence
  • gene organization
  • subtilis spores
  • genome sequence
  • amino acid
  • anthracis
  • operon
  • inosine

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