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Transcriptional profiling of bacillus anthracis life cycle in vitro & an implied model

DTI Globalwatch : 15 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
The life cycle of Bacillus anthracis includes both vegetative and endospore morphologies which alternate based on nutrient availability, and there is considerable evidence indicating that the ability of this organism to cause anthrax depends on its ability to progress through this life cycle in a regulated manner.
The life cycle of Bacillus anthracis includes both vegetative and endospore morphologies which alternate based on nutrient availability, and there is considerable evidence indicating that the ability of this organism to cause anthrax depends on its ability to progress through this life cycle in a regulated manner. Here we report the use of a custom B. anthracis GeneChip in defining the gene expression patterns that occur throughout the entire life cycle in vitro. Nearly 5,000 genes were expressed in five distinct waves of transcription as the bacteria progressed from germination through sporulation, and we identified a specific set of functions represented within each wave. We also used these data to define the temporal expression of the spore proteome, and in doing so we have demonstrated that much of the spore's protein content is not synthesized de novo during sporulation but rather is packaged from preexisting stocks. We explored several potential mechanisms by which the cell could control which proteins are packaged into the developing spore, and our analyses were most consistent with a model in which B. anthracis regulates the composition of the spore proteome based on protein stability. This study is by far the most comprehensive survey yet of the B. anthracis life cycle and serves as a useful resource in defining the growth-phase-dependent expression patterns of each gene. Additionally, the data and accompanying bioinformatics analyses suggest a model for sporulation that has broad implications for B. anthracis biology and offer new possibilities for microbial forensics and detection.
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