To identify more mutations that can affect the early development of Myxococcus xanthus, the synthetic transposon TnT41 was designed and constructed. By virtue of its special features, it can greatly facilitate the processes of mutation screening/selection, mapping, cloning and DNA sequencing. In addition, it allows for the systematic discovery of genes in regulatory hierarchies using their target promoters. In this study, the minimal regulatory region of the early developmentally regulated gene 4521 was used as a reporter in the TnT41 mutagenesis. Both positive (P) mutations and negative (N) mutations were isolated based on their effects on 4521 expression.
Four of these mutations, i.e. N1, N2, P52 and P54 were analyzed in detail. Mutations N1 and N2 are insertion mutations in a gene designated sasB. The sasB gene is also identified in this study by genetic and molecular analysis of five UV-generated 4521 suppressor mutations. The sasB gene encodes a protein without meaningful homology in the databases. The sasB gene negatively regulates 4521 expression possibly through the SasS-SasR two component system. A wild-type sasB gene is required for normal M. xanthus fruiting body formation and sporulation.
Cloning and sequencing analysis of the P52 mutation led to the identification of an operon that encodes the M. xanthus high-affinity branched-chain amino acid transporter system. This liv operon consists of five genes designated livK, livH, livM, livG, and livF, respectively. The Liv proteins are highly similar to their counterparts from other bacteria in both amino acid sequences, functional motifs and predicted secondary structures. This system is required for development since liv null mutations cause abnormality in fruiting body formation and a 100-fold decrease in sporulation efficiency.
Mutation P54 is a TnT41 insertion in the sscM gene of the ssc chemotaxis system, which has been independently identified by Dr. Shi’s lab. The sscM gene encodes a MCP (methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein) homologue. The SscM protein is predicted to contain two transmembrane domains, a signaling domain and at least one putative methylation site. Null mutations of this gene abolish the aggregation of starving cells at a very early stage, though the sporulation levels of the mutant can reach 10% that of wild-type cells.
Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Myxococcus Xanthus Early Development