Heterocyst formation in cyanobacteria

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2000 Dec;3(6):618-24. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(00)00150-8.


When deprived of combined nitrogen, many filamentous cyanobacteria develop a one-dimensional pattern of specialised nitrogen-fixing cells, known as heterocysts. Recent years have seen the identification and characterisation of some of the key genes and proteins involved in heterocyst development and spacing, including the positive regulator HetR and the diffusible inhibitor PatS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cyanobacteria / genetics
  • Cyanobacteria / metabolism
  • Cyanobacteria / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • PatS protein, Anabaena
  • HetR protein, Bacteria
  • Nitrogen