Imaging Clostridioides difficile Spore Germination and Germination Proteins. Academic Article uri icon


  • Clostridioides difficile spores are the infective form for this endospore-forming organism. The vegetative cells are intolerant to oxygen and poor competitors with a healthy gut microbiota. Therefore, in order for C. difficile to establish infection, the spores have to germinate in an environment that supports vegetative growth. To initiate germination, C. difficile uses Csp-type germinant receptors that consist of the CspC and CspA pseudoproteases as the bile acid and cogerminant receptors, respectively. CspB is a subtilisin-like protease that cleaves the inhibitory propeptide from the pro-SleC cortex lytic enzyme, thereby activating it and initiating cortex degradation. Though several locations have been proposed for where these proteins reside within the spore (i.e., spore coat, outer spore membrane, cortex, and inner spore membrane), these have been based, mostly, on hypotheses or prior data in Clostridium perfringens. In this study, we visualized the germination and outgrowth process using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and used immunogold labeling to visualize key germination regulators. These analyses localize these key regulators to the spore cortex region for the first time. IMPORTANCE Germination by C. difficile spores is the first step in the establishment of potentially life-threatening C. difficile infection (CDI). A deeper understanding of the mechanism by which spores germinate may provide insight for how to either prevent spore germination into a disease-causing vegetative form or trigger germination prematurely when the spore is either in the outside environment or in a host environment that does not support the establishment of colonization/disease.

published proceedings

  • J Bacteriol

altmetric score

  • 7.8

author list (cited authors)

  • Baloh, M., Nerber, H. N., & Sorg, J. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Baloh, Marko||Nerber, Hailee N||Sorg, Joseph A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Henkin, T. M.

publication date

  • January 1, 2022 11:11 AM