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mSphere DOI:10.1128/mSphere.00211-21

Identification of a Novel Regulator of Clostridioides difficile Cortex Formation.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsTouchette, MH, de la Puebla, HBenito, Feliciano, CAlves, Tanenbaum, B, Schenone, M, Carr, SA, Shen, A
Date Published2021 May 28

Clostridioides difficile is a leading cause of health care-associated infections worldwide. These infections are transmitted by C. difficile's metabolically dormant, aerotolerant spore form. Functional spore formation depends on the assembly of two protective layers, a thick layer of modified peptidoglycan known as the cortex layer and a multilayered proteinaceous meshwork known as the coat. We previously identified two spore morphogenetic proteins, SpoIVA and SipL, that are essential for recruiting coat proteins to the developing forespore and making functional spores. While SpoIVA and SipL directly interact, the identities of the proteins they recruit to the forespore remained unknown. Here, we used mass spectrometry-based affinity proteomics to identify proteins that interact with the SpoIVA-SipL complex. These analyses identified the family-specific, sporulation-induced bitopic membrane protein CD3457 (renamed SpoVQ) as a protein that interacts with SipL and SpoIVA. Loss of SpoVQ decreased heat-resistant spore formation by ∼5-fold and reduced cortex thickness ∼2-fold; the thinner cortex layer of Δ spores correlated with higher levels of spontaneous germination (i.e., in the absence of germinant). Notably, loss of SpoVQ in either or mutants prevented cortex synthesis altogether and greatly impaired the localization of a SipL-mCherry fusion protein around the forespore. Thus, SpoVQ is a novel regulator of C. difficile cortex synthesis that appears to link cortex and coat formation. The identification of SpoVQ as a spore morphogenetic protein further highlights how family-specific mechanisms control spore formation in C. difficile. The Centers for Disease Control has designated Clostridioides difficile as an urgent threat because of its intrinsic antibiotic resistance. C. difficile persists in the presence of antibiotics in part because it makes metabolically dormant spores. While recent work has shown that preventing the formation of infectious spores can reduce C. difficile disease recurrence, more selective antisporulation therapies are needed. The identification of spore morphogenetic factors specific to C. difficile would facilitate the development of such therapies. In this study, we identified SpoVQ (CD3457) as a spore morphogenetic protein specific to the family that regulates the formation of C. difficile's protective spore cortex layer. SpoVQ acts in concert with the known spore coat morphogenetic factors, SpoIVA and SipL, to link formation of the protective coat and cortex layers. These data reveal a novel pathway that could be targeted to prevent the formation of infectious C. difficile spores.


Alternate JournalmSphere
PubMed ID34047655