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Annu Rev Microbiol. 1992;46:117-39.

Control of cell density and pattern by intercellular signaling in Myxococcus development.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, California 94305.


Myxococcus xanthus cells feed, move, and develop cooperatively. Genetic, biochemical, and cell mosaic studies demonstrate that cells coordinate their multicellular behavior by transmission of intercellular signals. Starvation for amino acids at sufficiently high density on a solid surface initiates a series of events culminating in the formation of a multicellular structure called a fruiting body filled with dormant, environmentally resistant spores. This review discusses how myxobacteria use extracellular signals to sequentially check the density and arrangement of cells at different stages during development. For at least one early and one late developmental signal, cell density determines the efficiency of intercellular signaling. In turn, proper signaling insures that the appropriate cell density exists, thus controlling the progress of multicellular development in M. xanthus.

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