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Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2000 Apr;64(4):799-807.

Deletion of the yhhP gene results in filamentous cell morphology in Escherichia coli.

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Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, School of Agriculture, Nagoya University, Japan.


The Escherichia coli yhhP gene was predicted to encode a small hypothetical protein of 81 amino acids, the cellular function of which is not known. To gain insight into the function of this uncharacterized YhhP protein, genetic and biochemical studies were done. We first tried to express and purify the YhhP protein to prepare an anti-YhhP antiserum. Western blotting showed that the hypothetical yhhP gene is indeed transcribed and translated as a minor cytoplasmic protein. YhhP-deficient (delta yhhP) cells formed colonies poorly on a rich medium (e.g., Luria-Bertani medium) containing a relatively low concentration of NaCl, while they can grow normally either in LB containing 3% NaCl or in a synthetic medium (e.g., M9-glucose). During exponential growth in rich medium, an early step of cell division was inhibited in delta yhhP cells, forming filaments. For the YhhP-deficient filamentous cells, the FtsZ-ring formation was analyzed with immunofluorescence microscopy. The FtsZ-ring formation did not occur normally in the delta yhhP filaments, although the filamentous cells contained the FtsZ protein at a certain level comparable to that in the wild-type cells. The ftsZ gene was found to function as a multicopy suppressor of the delta yhhP mutant. Another multicopy suppressor gene was identified as the dksA gene. Provided that either the ftsZ or dksA gene was introduced into the mutant cells with its multicopy state, the resulting transformants were capable of growing in rich medium, formed wild-type short rods. These results are discussed with regard to the presumed function of this ubiquitous protein.

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