DNA replication during endospore development in Metabacterium polyspora

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The guinea pig intestinal symbiont Metabacterium polyspora is an uncultured, endospore-forming member of the Firmicutes. Unlike most endospore-forming bacteria, sporulation is an obligate part of the M. polyspora life cycle when it is associated with a guinea pig. Binary fission is limited to a brief period in its life cycle, if exhibited at all. Instead, M. polyspora relies on the formation of multiple endospores for reproduction. Sporulation is initiated immediately after germination, which leaves little time for the cell to accumulate resources to support spore formation. Using immunolocalization of the nucleotide analogue bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU), we were able to follow replication dynamics in M. polyspora. BrdU was provided to cells within the guinea pig intestinal tract. BrdU was incorporated into DNA located within the forespores throughout development, at all stages prior to spore maturation. Our results suggest that in M. polyspora, DNA replication within the forespore is not suppressed during sporulation as it is in other endospore-forming bacteria. Replication within forespores would allow M. polyspora to maximize its reproductive potential and supply each endospore with at least one complete copy of the genome.

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