Molecular Microbiology, 2018
Clostridium difficile remains the leading cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in hospitals worldwide, linked to significant morbidity and mortality. As a strict anaerobe, it produces dormant cell forms – spores – which allow it to survive in the aerobic environment. Importantly, spores are the transmission agent of C. difficile infections. A key aspect of sporulation is the engulfment of the future spore by the mother cell and several proteins have been proposed to be involved. Here, we investigated the role of the SpoIID, SpoIIM and SpoIIP (DMP) machinery and its interplay with the SpoIIQ:SpoIIIAH (Q:AH) complex in C. difficile. We show that, surprisingly, SpoIIM, the proposed machinery anchor, is not required for efficient engulfment and sporulation. We demonstrate the requirement of DP for engulfment due to their sequential peptidoglycan degradation activity, both in vitro and in vivo. Finally, new interactions within DMP and between DMP and Q:AH suggest that both systems form a single engulfment machinery to keep the mother cell and forespore membranes together throughout engulfment. This work sheds new light upon the engulfment process and on how different sporeformers might use the same components in different ways to drive spore formation.