Summary: Intercellular communication is a crucial phenomenon during spore development in . It couples the establishment of a compartment-specific genetic program to the transcriptional activity of a σ factor in the other compartment. It also keeps σ factor activation in register with the morphological process. This study used directed mutagenesis to analyse the pathway that couples σ activation in the mother-cell to activation of σ in the forespore following asymmetric septation. Targets for mutagenesis in SpollGA (the receptor) were chosen based on the predicted topology of the protein when associated with the cell membrane. The results showed that a residue near the N terminus (D6), predicted to be exposed outside the cell, is required for receptor activity, whereas the major extracellular loop (between membrane domains IV and V) is dispensable for function. In contrast, mutations in SpollR (the signal) that partially blocked protein release (but not membrane translocation) had no effect on signal transduction. These results do not rule out the possibility that uncharacterized molecules intervene in the signalling pathway that establishes the mother-cell-specific developmental program during the early stage of sporulation.


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