Light dependent synthesis of a nucleotide second messenger controls the motility of a spirochete bacterium

Sci Rep. 2022 Apr 26;12(1):6825. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-10556-7.


Nucleotide second messengers are universally crucial factors for the signal transduction of various organisms. In prokaryotes, cyclic nucleotide messengers are involved in the bacterial life cycle and in functions such as virulence and biofilm formation, mainly via gene regulation. Here, we show that the swimming motility of the soil bacterium Leptospira kobayashii is rapidly modulated by light stimulation. Analysis of a loss-of-photoresponsivity mutant obtained by transposon random mutagenesis identified the novel sensory gene, and its expression in Escherichia coli through codon optimization elucidated the light-dependent synthesis of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). GFP labeling showed the localization of the photoresponsive enzyme at the cell poles where flagellar motors reside. These findings suggest a new role for cAMP in rapidly controlling the flagella-dependent motility of Leptospira and highlight the global distribution of the newly discovered photoactivated cyclase among diverse microbial species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems
  • Spirochaeta* / metabolism
  • Spirochaetales* / metabolism


  • Cyclic AMP