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J Bacteriol. Nov 1993; 175(22): 7450–7462.
PMCID: PMC206890

devRS, an autoregulated and essential genetic locus for fruiting body development in Myxococcus xanthus.


Two Tn5 lac insertions into the Myxococcus genome at sites omega 4414 and omega 4473, which are separated by 550 nucleotides, inactivate fruiting body development. Sporulation is decreased 100- to 10,000-fold. At least two genes, devR and devS, are transcribed in this region, probably as an operon. Expression of devR begins by 6 h after starvation has initiated development. On the basis of their nucleotide sequences, devR and devS are expected to encode proteins of 302 and 214 amino acids, respectively. Dev+ function can be restored by a segment of 7.8 kb cloned from the devRS region of wild-type cells. Two experiments show that devR expression is under strong negative autoregulation. beta-Galactosidase is expressed at a higher level from a transcriptional devR::lacZ fusion when the fused operon is in a dev strain than when it is in the dev/dev+ genetic background of a partial diploid. There is more mRNA accumulation from the devRS region in the dev strain than in a rescued dev/dev+ tandem duplication strain. Sporulation rescue is correlated with some degree of negative autoregulation, even though sporulation is not inversely proportional to beta-galactosidase expression from omega 4414. A second level of regulation is suggested by complementation of dev by dev+ in duplication strains. The expression of devRS, measured by sporulation levels, differs 1,000-fold when devRS+ is moved from a distance of 20 kb to 3 Mb from the mutant devRS locus. Expression of devR is also dependent on the cell density at which development is initiated, a third level of regulation. Multiple levels of regulation suggest that devRS is a switch required to activate completion of aggregation and sporulation.

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