In-phase oscillation of global regulons is orchestrated by a pole-specific organizer

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Nov 1;113(44):12550-12555. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1610723113. Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Cell fate determination in the asymmetric bacterium Caulobacter crescentus (Caulobacter) is triggered by the localization of the developmental regulator SpmX to the old (stalked) cell pole during the G1→S transition. Although SpmX is required to localize and activate the cell fate-determining kinase DivJ at the stalked pole in Caulobacter, in cousins such as Asticcacaulis, SpmX directs organelle (stalk) positioning and possibly other functions. We define the conserved σ54-dependent transcriptional activator TacA as a global regulator in Caulobacter whose activation by phosphorylation is indirectly down-regulated by SpmX. Using a combination of forward genetics and cytological screening, we uncover a previously uncharacterized and polarized component (SpmY) of the TacA phosphorylation control system, and we show that SpmY function and localization are conserved. Thus, SpmX organizes a site-specific, ancestral, and multifunctional regulatory hub integrating the in-phase oscillation of two global transcriptional regulators, CtrA (the master cell cycle transcriptional regulator A) and TacA, that perform important cell cycle functions.

Keywords: Caulobacter crescentus; SpmX; cell cycle; α-proteobacteria; σ54.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Caulobacter crescentus / cytology
  • Caulobacter crescentus / genetics*
  • Caulobacter crescentus / metabolism
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Regulon / genetics*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Trans-Activators