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J Bacteriol. 2006 Jul;188(13):4759-68.

Role of CheB and CheR in the complex chemotactic and aerotactic pathway of Azospirillum brasilense.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, USA.


It has previously been reported that the alpha-proteobacterium Azospirillum brasilense undergoes methylation-independent chemotaxis; however, a recent study revealed cheB and cheR genes in this organism. We have constructed cheB, cheR, and cheBR mutants of A. brasilense and determined that the CheB and CheR proteins under study significantly influence chemotaxis and aerotaxis but are not essential for these behaviors to occur. First, we found that although cells lacking CheB, CheR, or both were no longer capable of responding to the addition of most chemoattractants in a temporal gradient assay, they did show a chemotactic response (albeit reduced) in a spatial gradient assay. Second, in comparison to the wild type, cheB and cheR mutants under steady-state conditions exhibited an altered swimming bias, whereas the cheBR mutant and the che operon mutant did not. Third, cheB and cheR mutants were null for aerotaxis, whereas the cheBR mutant showed reduced aerotaxis. In contrast to the swimming bias for the model organism Escherichia coli, the swimming bias in A. brasilense cells was dependent on the carbon source present and cells released methanol upon addition of some attractants and upon removal of other attractants. In comparison to the wild type, the cheB, cheR, and cheBR mutants showed various altered patterns of methanol release upon exposure to attractants. This study reveals a significant difference between the chemotaxis adaptation system of A. brasilense and that of the model organism E. coli and suggests that multiple chemotaxis systems are present and contribute to chemotaxis and aerotaxis in A. brasilense.

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