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Journal of bacteriology

Nutrient-regulated proteolysis of MrpC halts expression of genes important for commitment to sporulation during Myxococcus xanthus development.


PMID 24837289

Abstract

Starved Myxococcus xanthus cells glide to aggregation centers and form fruiting bodies in which rod-shaped cells differentiate into ovoid spores. Commitment to development was investigated by adding nutrients at specific times after starvation and determining whether development halted or proceeded. At 24 h poststarvation, some rod-shaped cells were committed to subsequent shape change and to becoming sonication-resistant spores, but nutrients caused partial disaggregation of fruiting bodies. By 30 h poststarvation, 10-fold more cells were committed to becoming sonication-resistant spores, and compact fruiting bodies persisted after nutrient addition. During the critical period of commitment around 24 to 30 h poststarvation, the transcription factors MrpC and FruA cooperatively regulate genes important for sporulation. FruA responds to short-range C-signaling, which increases as cells form fruiting bodies. MrpC was found to be highly sensitive to nutrient-regulated proteolysis both before and during the critical period of commitment to sporulation. The rapid turnover of MrpC upon nutrient addition to developing cells halted expression of the dev operon, which is important for sporulation. Regulated proteolysis of MrpC appeared to involve ATP-independent metalloprotease activity and may provide a mechanism for monitoring whether starvation persists and halting commitment to sporulation if nutrients reappear.