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J Bacteriol. 2001 Jan;183(2):725-35.

Temporal regulation of genes encoding the flagellar proximal rod in Caulobacter crescentus.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Molecular Biology Institute, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1569, USA.


The gram-negative bacterium Caulobacter crescentus has a life cycle that includes two distinct and separable developmental stages, a motile swarmer phase and a sessile stalked phase. The cell cycle-controlled biogenesis of the single polar flagellum of the swarmer cell is the best-studied aspect of this developmental program. The flagellar regulon is arranged into a rigid trans-acting hierarchy of gene expression in which successful expression of early genes is required for the expression of genes that are later in the hierarchy and in which the order of gene expression mirrors the order of assembly of gene products into the completed flagellum. The flgBC-fliE genes were identified as a result of the C. crescentus genome sequencing project and encode the homologues of two flagellar proximal rod proteins, FlgB and FlgC, and one conserved protein, FliE, that is of unknown function. Footprint assays on a DNA fragment containing the operon promoter as well as in vivo mutant suppressor analysis of promoter mutations indicate that this operon is controlled by the cell cycle response regulator CtrA, which with sigma(70) is responsible for regulating transcription of other early flagellar genes in C. crescentus. Promoter analysis, timing of expression, and epistasis experiments place these genes outside of the flagellar regulatory hierarchy; they are expressed in class II mutants, and flgB deletions do not prevent class III gene expression. This operon is also unusual in that it is expressed from a promoter that is divergent from the class II operon containing fliP, which encodes a member of the flagellum-specific protein export apparatus.

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