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CEMOVIS on a pathogen: analysis of Bacillus anthracis spores.

Abstract : Under conditions of starvation, bacteria of Bacillus ssp. are able to form a highly structured cell type, the dormant spore. When the environment presents more favourable conditions, the spore starts to germinate, which will lead to the release of the vegetative form in the life cycle, the bacillus. For Bacillus anthracis, the aetiological agent of anthrax, germination is normally linked to host uptake and represents an important step in the onset of anthrax disease. Morphological studies analysing the organization of the spore and the changes during germination at the electron microscopy level were only previously performed with techniques relying on fixation with aldehydes and osmium, and subsequent dehydration, which can produce artefacts. In the present study, we describe the morphology of dormant spores using CEMOVIS (Cryo-Electron Microscopy of Vitreous Sections). Biosafety measures do not permit freezing of native spores of B. anthracis without chemical fixation. To study the influence of aldehyde fixation on the ultrastructure of the spore, we chose to analyse spores of the closely related non-pathogen Bacillus cereus T. For none of the investigated structures could we find a difference in morphology induced by aldehyde fixation compared with the native preparations for CEMOVIS. This result legitimizes work with aldehyde-fixed spores from B. anthracis. Using CEMOVIS, we describe two new structures present in the spore: a rectangular structure, which connects the BclA filaments with the basal layer of the exosporium, and a repetitive structure, which can be found in the terminal layer of the coat. We studied the morphological changes of the spore during germination. After outgrowth of the bacillus, coat and exosporium stay associated, and the layered organization of the coat, as well as the repetitive structure within it, remain unchanged.
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Contributor : Martin Sachse <>
Submitted on : Friday, March 13, 2015 - 1:12:42 PM
Last modification on : Monday, January 13, 2020 - 5:08:14 PM

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Evelyne Couture-Tosi, Jean-Luc Ranck, Georges Haustant, Gerard Pehau-Arnaudet, Martin Sachse. CEMOVIS on a pathogen: analysis of Bacillus anthracis spores.. Biology of the Cell, Wiley, 2010, 102 (11), pp.609-19. ⟨10.1042/BC20100080⟩. ⟨pasteur-01131323⟩



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