Cryo-EM analysis of the organization of BclA and BxpB in the Bacillus anthracis exosporium

Academic Article


  • Bacillus anthracis and other pathogenic Bacillus species form spores that are surrounded by an exosporium, a balloon-like layer that acts as the outer permeability barrier of the spore and contributes to spore survival and virulence. The exosporium consists of a hair-like nap and a paracrystalline basal layer. The filaments of the nap are comprised of trimers of the collagen-like glycoprotein BclA, while the basal layer contains approximately 20 different proteins. One of these proteins, BxpB, forms tight complexes with BclA and is required for attachment of essentially all BclA filaments to the basal layer. Another basal layer protein, ExsB, is required for the stable attachment of the exosporium to the spore. To determine the organization of BclA and BxpB within the exosporium, we used cryo-electron microscopy, cryo-sectioning and crystallographic analysis of negatively stained exosporium fragments to compare wildtype spores and mutant spores lacking BclA, BxpB or ExsB (δ bclA, δ bxpB and δ exsB spores, respectively). The trimeric BclA filaments are attached to basal layer surface protrusions that appear to be trimers of BxpB. The protrusions interact with a crystalline layer of hexagonal subunits formed by other basal layer proteins. Although δ bxpB spores retain the hexagonal subunits, the basal layer is not organized with crystalline order and lacks basal layer protrusions and most BclA filaments, indicating a central role for BxpB in exosporium organization. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
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    Author List

  • Rodenburg CM; McPherson SA; Turnbough CL; Dokland T
  • Start Page

  • 181
  • End Page

  • 187
  • Volume

  • 186
  • Issue

  • 1