The ExsY protein is required for complete formation of the exosporium of Bacillus anthracis

Academic Article


  • The outermost layer of the Bacillus anthracis spore is the exosporium, which is composed of a paracrystalline basal layer and an external hair-like nap. The filaments of the nap are formed by a collagen-like glycoprotein called BclA, while the basal layer contains several different proteins. One of the putative basal layer proteins is ExsY. In this study, we constructed a ΔexsY mutant of B. anthracis, which is devoid of ExsY, and examined the assembly of the exosporium on spores produced by this strain. Our results show that exosporium assembly on ΔexsY spores is aberrant, with assembly arrested after the formation of a cap-like fragment that covers one end of the forespore-always the end near the middle of the mother cell. The cap contains a normal hair-like nap but an irregular basal layer. The cap is retained on spores prepared on solid medium, even after spore purification, but it is lost from spores prepared in liquid medium. Microscopic inspection of ΔexsY spores prepared on solid medium revealed a fragile sac-like sublayer of the exosporium basal layer, to which caps were attached. Examination of purified ΔexsY spores devoid of exosporium showed that they lacked detectable levels of BclA and the basal layer proteins BxpB, BxpC, CotY, and inosine-uridine-preferring nucleoside hydrolase; however, these spores retained half the amount of alanine racemase presumed to be associated with the exosporium of wild-type spores. The ΔexsY mutation did not affect spore production and germination efficiencies or spore resistance but did influence the course of spore outgrowth. Copyright © 2006, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Boydston JA; Yue L; Kearney JF; Turnbough CL
  • Start Page

  • 7440
  • End Page

  • 7448
  • Volume

  • 188
  • Issue

  • 21