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J Bacteriol. Jun 1995; 177(11): 3176–3184.
PMCID: PMC177008

A mutation that uncouples flagellum assembly from transcription alters the temporal pattern of flagellar gene expression in Caulobacter crescentus.

Abstract

The transcription of flagellar genes in Caulobacter crescentus is regulated by cell cycle events that culminate in the synthesis of a new flagellum once every cell division. Early flagellar gene products regulate the expression of late flagellar genes at two distinct stages of the flagellar trans-acting hierarchy. Here we investigate the coupling of early flagellar biogenesis with middle and late flagellar gene expression. We have isolated mutants (bfa) that do not require early class II flagellar gene products for the transcription of middle or late flagellar genes. bfa mutant strains are apparently defective in a negative regulatory pathway that couples early flagellar biogenesis to late flagellar gene expression. The bfa regulatory pathway functions solely at the level of transcription. Although flagellin promoters are transcribed in class II/bfa double mutants, there is no detectable flagellin protein on immunoblots prepared from mutant cell extracts. This finding suggests that early flagellar biogenesis is coupled to gene expression by two distinct mechanisms: one that negatively regulates transcription, mediated by bfa, and another that functions posttranscriptionally. To determine whether bfa affects the temporal pattern of late flagellar gene expression, cell cycle experiments were performed in bfa mutant strains. In a bfa mutant strain, flagellin expression fails to shut off at its normal time in the cell division cycle. This experimental result indicates that bfa may function as a regulator of flagellar gene transcription late in the cell cycle, after early flagellar structures have been assembled.

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Selected References

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