The relevance of pilus-related genes to motility, pilus structure on the cell surface and competency of natural transformation was studied by gene disruption analysis in the unicellular motile cyanobacterium Synechocystis: sp. PCC 6803. The genes disrupted in this study were chosen as related to the pil genes for biogenesis of the type IV pili in a Gram-negative bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It was found that motility of Synechocystis cells was lost in the mutants of slr0063, slr1274, slr1275, slr1276, slr1277 and sll1694 together with a simultaneous loss of the thick pili on the cell surface. Competency of the natural transformation was lost in the mutants listed above and slr0197-disruptant. The gene slr0197 was previously predicted as a competence gene by a search with sequence-independent DNA-binding structure [Yura et al. (1999) DNA Res. 6: 75]. It was suggested that both DNA uptake for natural transformation and motility are mediated by a specific type IV-like pilus structure, while a putative DNA-binding protein encoded by slr0197 is additionally required for the DNA uptake. Based on the homology with the pil genes in P: aeruginosa, slr0063, slr1274, slr1275, slr1276, slr1277 and sll1694 were designated pilB1, pilM, pilN, pilO, pilQ and pilA1, respectively. The gene slr0197 was designated comA.