A response regulator interfaces between the Frz chemosensory system and the MglA/MglB GTPase/GAP module to regulate polarity in Myxococcus xanthus

PLoS Genet. 2012 Sep;8(9):e1002951. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002951. Epub 2012 Sep 13.

Abstract

How cells establish and dynamically change polarity are general questions in cell biology. Cells of the rod-shaped bacterium Myxococcus xanthus move on surfaces with defined leading and lagging cell poles. Occasionally, cells undergo reversals, which correspond to an inversion of the leading-lagging pole polarity axis. Reversals are induced by the Frz chemosensory system and depend on relocalization of motility proteins between the poles. The Ras-like GTPase MglA localizes to and defines the leading cell pole in the GTP-bound form. MglB, the cognate MglA GTPase activating protein, localizes to and defines the lagging pole. During reversals, MglA-GTP and MglB switch poles and, therefore, dynamically localized motility proteins switch poles. We identified the RomR response regulator, which localizes in a bipolar asymmetric pattern with a large cluster at the lagging pole, as important for motility and reversals. We show that RomR interacts directly with MglA and MglB in vitro. Furthermore, RomR, MglA, and MglB affect the localization of each other in all pair-wise directions, suggesting that RomR stimulates motility by promoting correct localization of MglA and MglB in MglA/RomR and MglB/RomR complexes at opposite poles. Moreover, localization analyses suggest that the two RomR complexes mutually exclude each other from their respective poles. We further show that RomR interfaces with FrzZ, the output response regulator of the Frz chemosensory system, to regulate reversals. Thus, RomR serves at the functional interface to connect a classic bacterial signalling module (Frz) to a classic eukaryotic polarity module (MglA/MglB). This modular design is paralleled by the phylogenetic distribution of the proteins, suggesting an evolutionary scheme in which RomR was incorporated into the MglA/MglB module to regulate cell polarity followed by the addition of the Frz system to dynamically regulate cell polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins* / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins* / metabolism
  • Cell Movement* / genetics
  • Cell Movement* / physiology
  • Cell Polarity / genetics
  • Focal Adhesions / genetics
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Focal Adhesions / physiology
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / genetics*
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / genetics
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / metabolism
  • Myxococcus xanthus* / genetics
  • Myxococcus xanthus* / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Signal Transduction

Substances

  • Bacterial Proteins
  • GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Molecular Motor Proteins
  • MglA protein, Myxococcus xanthus

Grant support

This work was supported by the Max Planck Society. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.