TitleThe Clostridium perfringens germinant receptor protein GerKC is located in the spore inner membrane and is crucial for spore germination.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBanawas, S, Paredes-Sabja, D, Korza, G, Li, Y, Hao, B, Setlow, P, Sarker, MR
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Date Published2013 Nov
KeywordsBacterial, Spores

The Gram-positive, anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium Clostridium perfringens causes a variety of diseases in both humans and animals, and spore germination is thought to be the first stage of C. perfringens infection. Previous studies have indicated that the germinant receptor (GR) proteins encoded by the bicistronic gerKA-gerKC operon as well as the proteins encoded by the gerKB and gerAA genes are required for normal germination of C. perfringens spores. We now report the individual role of these GR proteins by analyzing the germination of strains carrying mutations in gerKA, gerKC, or both gerKB and gerAA. Western blot analysis was also used to determine the location and numbers of GerKC proteins in spores. Conclusions from this work include the following: (i) gerKC mutant spores germinate extremely poorly with KCl, l-asparagine, a mixture of asparagine and KCl, or NaPi; (ii) gerKC spores germinate significantly more slowly than wild-type and other GR mutant spores with a 1:1 chelate of Ca(2+) and dipicolinic acid and very slightly more slowly with dodecylamine; (iii) the germination defects in gerKC spores are largely restored by expressing the wild-type gerKA-gerKC operon in trans; (iv) GerKC is required for the spores' viability, almost certainly because of the gerKC spores' poor germination; and (v) GerKC is located in the spores' inner membrane, with ∼250 molecules/spore. Collectively, these results indicate that GerKC is the main GR protein required for nutrient and nonnutrient germination of spores of C. perfringens food-poisoning isolates.