In the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus, starvation triggers the formation of multicellular fruiting bodies containing thousands of stress-resistant spores. Recent work showed that fruiting body development is regulated by a cascade of transcriptional activators called enhancer binding proteins (EBPs). The EBP Nla6 is a key component of this cascade; it regulates the promoters of other EBP genes, including a downstream-functioning EBP gene that is crucial for sporulation. In recent expression studies, hundreds of Nla6-dependent genes were identified, suggesting that the EBP gene targets of Nla6 may be part of a much larger regulon. The goal of this study was to identify and characterize genes that belong to the Nla6 regulon. Accordingly, a direct repeat [consensus, C(C/A)ACGNNGNC] binding site for Nla6 was identified using in vitro and in vivo mutational analyses, and the sequence was subsequently used to find 40 potential developmental promoter (88 gene) targets. We showed that Nla6 binds to the promoter region of four new targets (asgE, exo, MXAN2688, and MXAN3259) in vitro and that Nla6 is important for their normal expression in vivo. Phenotypic studies indicate that all of the experimentally confirmed targets of Nla6 are primarily involved in sporulation. These targets include genes involved in transcriptional regulation, cell-cell signal production, and spore differentiation and maturation. Although sporulation occurs late in development, all of the developmental loci analyzed here show an Nla6-dependent burst in expression soon after starvation is induced. This finding suggests that Nla6 starts preparing cells for sporulation very early in the developmental process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology