Proteins YlaJ and YhcN contribute to the efficiency of spore germination inBacillus subtilis

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The YlaJ and YhcN spore lipoproteins of Bacillus subtilis contain a common domain, and are of unknown function. Homologues of YlaJ or YhcN are widespread in Bacilli and are also encoded in those Clostridia that use cortex lytic enzymes SleB and CwlJ for cortex hydrolysis during germination. In B. subtilis, we report that single and double mutants lacking YlaJ and/or YhcN show a reduced rate of spore germination in L-alanine, with a delay in loss of heat resistance, release of dipicolinic acid and OD fall. If B. subtilis spores lack the cortex lytic enzyme CwlJ, spore cortex degradation and subsequent outgrowth to form colonies is strictly dependent on the other cortex lytic enzyme SleB, allowing a test of SleB function; in a cwlJ mutant background, the combined loss of both ylaJ and yhcN genes resulted in a spore population in which only 20% of spores germinated and outgrew to form colonies, suggesting that SleB activity is compromised. YlaJ and YhcN have a role in germination that is not yet well defined, but these proteins are likely to contribute, directly or indirectly, to early events in germination, including effective SleB function.

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