Research ArticleMICROBIOLOGY

Metabolic differentiation and intercellular nurturing underpin bacterial endospore formation

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Science Advances  22 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 4, eabd6385
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd6385

Abstract

Despite intensive research, the role of metabolism in bacterial sporulation remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that Bacillus subtilis sporulation entails a marked metabolic differentiation of the two cells comprising the sporangium: the forespore, which becomes the dormant spore, and the mother cell, which dies as sporulation completes. Our data provide evidence that metabolic precursor biosynthesis becomes restricted to the mother cell and that the forespore becomes reliant on mother cell–derived metabolites for protein synthesis. We further show that arginine is trafficked between the two cells and that proposed proteinaceous channels mediate small-molecule intercellular transport. Thus, sporulation entails the profound metabolic reprogramming of the forespore, which is depleted of key metabolic enzymes and must import metabolites from the mother cell. Together, our results provide a bacterial example analogous to progeny nurturing.

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