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Trends Microbiol. 2004 Aug;12(8):361-5.

Morphological and functional asymmetry in alpha-proteobacteria.

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  • 1UnitĂ© de Recherche en Biologie MolĂ©culaire (URBM), University of Namur, 61 rue de Bruxelles, B-5000 Namur, Belgium.


The release of an increasing number of complete bacterial genomic sequences allows the evolutionary analysis of processes such as regulatory networks. CtrA is a response regulator of the OmpR subfamily, belonging to a complex regulatory network in the dimorphic bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. It coordinates the cell cycle with an asymmetric division, which is part of the adaptation of Caulobacter to poor-nutrient environments. CtrA is only found in alpha-proteobacteria, a group of bacteria encompassing genera with very distinct lifestyles, including host-associated bacteria. Analyses of CtrA regulatory networks and morphological examinations of some alpha-proteobacteria are presented. Our observations suggest that the core of the CtrA regulation network is conserved and that alpha-proteobacteria divide asymmetrically. We propose that the two daughter cells might be differentiated bacteria, each one displaying specific functions.

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