Sporulation and Germination in Clostridial Pathogens
December 19, 2019
Aimee Shen, Adrianne N. Edwards2, Mahfuzur R. Sarker, Daniel Paredes-Sabja
As obligate anaerobes, clostridial pathogens depend on their metabolically dormant, oxygen-tolerant spore form to transmit disease. However, the molecular mechanisms by which those spores germinate to initiate infection and then form new spores to transmit infection remain poorly understood. While sporulation and germination have been well characterized in Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus anthracis, striking differences in the regulation of these processes have been observed between the bacilli and the clostridia, with even some conserved proteins exhibiting differences in their requirements and functions. Here, we review our current understanding of how clostridial pathogens, specifically Clostridium perfringens, Clostridium botulinum, and Clostridioides difficile, induce sporulation in response to environmental cues, assemble resistant spores, and germinate metabolically dormant spores in response to environmental cues. We also discuss the direct relationship between toxin production and spore formation in these pathogens.