, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 426-433

Specialized peptidoglycan of the bacterial endospore: the inner wall of the lockbox

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Abstract.

A modified peptidoglycan (PG) wall is required for maintenance of spore core dehydration and the accompanying metabolic dormancy and heat resistance. Production of the spore PG depends on the cooperative expression of gene products within both the mother cell and forespore compartments of the sporangium. Structural elements that differentiate spore PG from vegetative cell PG include the presence of the modified sugar muramic-δ-lactam and a low level of peptide cross-links between the glycan strands. Detailed analyses of PG structure in dormant spores and in developing forespores of wild-type and mutant strains are providing data on factors required for introduction of these modifications and the importance of these structural elements in determining spore properties. Muramic-δ-lactam is not required for spore core dehydration but serves as a specificity factor for spore germination lytic enzymes. Cross-linking of spore PG can vary over a relatively wide range without significantly effecting spore core dehydration but does have an influence on the rate of spore germination and outgrowth. Future studies will examine how the two cells within the sporangium coordinate the production of this unique structure between themselves and how specific spore PG structural modifications are produced and participate in determining spore resistance properties.