Streptomyces coelicolor is a non-pathogenic soil saprophytic bacterium and is a model organism for antibiotic production. This species contains a single copy of a nine gene cluster known as the mammalian cell entry (mce) operon. This operon was originally characterised in Mycobacterium tuberculosis as an important virulence factor acting in invasion and survival within macrophages and encodes an ABC transporter for cholesterol import. As the function of the mceoperon in S. coelicoloris currently unknown, this study aims to characterise the operon through deletion of the mcelocus and resulting impact on bacterial morphology and survival. SEM images demonstrate that spores of a mcedeletion mutant (Δmce) display a wrinkled, and ‘fragile’ phenotype, with spores appearing to germinate whilst on the spore chain. Heat kill assays show that the deletion of the mce operon result in S. coelicolor spores which are less tolerant to temperatures of 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100°C compared to WT S. coelicolor spores. Heat activation of Δmce spores was also consistently absent at all temperatures tested. The spores of a Δmce mutant also exhibit a precocious germination phenotype seen on SEM images confirmed with germination assays.

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