Two peptidoglycan-lytic enzyme activities were isolated from spores of Bacillus megaterium KM. Surface-bound lytic enzyme was extracted from dormant spores and hydrolysed a variety of peptidoglycan substrates including isolated spore cortex, but did not cause refractility changes in permeabilized spores. Germination-specific lytic enzyme activity appeared early in germination and had minimal activity on isolated peptidoglycan substrates, but caused refractility changes in permeabilized spores of several Bacillus isolated peptidoglycan substrates, but caused refractility changes in permeabilized spores of several Bacillus species. The germination-specific lytic enzyme was shown to be a heat-sensitive 29 kDa protein with maximal activity at pH 6.5. It catalysed post-commitment muramic acid delta-lactam synthesis and displayed an inhibitor profile similar to that for post-commitment A600 loss. The relationship of the germination-specific enzyme to a recently proposed model of spore germination is discussed.

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