Regulation of motility behavior in Myxococcus xanthus may require an extracytoplasmic-function sigma factor

J Bacteriol. 1998 Nov;180(21):5668-75. doi: 10.1128/JB.180.21.5668-5675.1998.


Using interaction trap technology, we identified a putative extracytoplasmic-function (ECF) sigma factor (RpoE1) in Myxococcus xanthus, a bacterium which has a complex life cycle that includes fruiting body formation. The first domain of the response regulator protein FrzZ, a component of the Frz signal transduction system, was used as bait. Although the RpoE1 protein displayed no interactions with control proteins presented as bait, a weak interaction with a second M. xanthus response regulator (AsgA) was observed. While the specificity of the FrzZ-RpoE1 interaction therefore remains speculative, cloning and sequencing of the region surrounding rpoE1 localized it to a position downstream of the frzZ gene. A potential promoter site for binding of an ECF sigma factor was identified upstream of rpoE1, suggesting the gene may be autoregulated. However, primer extension studies suggested that transcription of rpoE1 occurs under both vegetative and developmental conditions from a sigma70-like promoter. Dot blot analysis of RNA preparations confirmed the low-level, constitutive expression of rpoE1 during both stages of the life cycle. Analysis of an insertion mutant also indicated a role for RpoE1 under both vegetative and developmental conditions, since swarming was reduced on nutrient-rich agar and developmental aggregation was effected under starvation conditions, especially at high cell densities. An insertion mutation introduced into the gene directly downstream of rpoE1 (orf5) did not result in either swarming or developmental aggregation defects, even though the gene is transcribed as part of the same operon. Therefore, we propose that this new ECF sigma factor could play a role in the transcriptional regulation of genes involved in motility behavior during both stages of the complex M. xanthus life cycle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Cytoplasm
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myxococcus xanthus / genetics*
  • Myxococcus xanthus / physiology
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Sigma Factor / genetics*
  • Sigma Factor / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • FrzZ protein, Myxococcus xanthus
  • RpoE1 protein, Myxococcus xanthus
  • Sigma Factor

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF049107