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Microbiology. 2001 Nov;147(Pt 11):3113-9.

Altered expression of two light-dependent genes in a microcystin-lacking mutant of Microcystis aeruginosa PCC 7806.

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Institute for Biology (Genetics), Humboldt University, Chausseestr. 117, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


Microcystin is a potent inhibitor of eukaryotic protein phosphatases and has been implicated in causing hepatotoxicity to humans and animals worldwide. It is produced primarily by the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Microcystis aeruginosa, although the function of the peptide in this micro-organism is unknown. In this study, a microcystin-related protein, MrpA, was identified using a microcystin-lacking mutant of M. aeruginosa, PCC 7806. Comparative two-dimensional protein electrophoresis showed that MrpA was strongly expressed in wild-type PCC 7806, but was not detectable in the mcyB mutant. MrpA showed similarity to the RhiA protein from Rhizobium leguminosarum, which is encoded by the rhiABC operon and controlled by quorum-sensing mediators. Sequencing of mrpA flanking regions in M. aeruginosa PCC 7806 revealed the presence of a rhiB homologue, mrpB, directly downstream of mrpA. Northern blot analyses of mrpA expression in cells exposed to different light conditions revealed a rapid decline of transcription under high light conditions. Most striking was a strong increase in transcript levels from cultures irradiated with blue light. The mrpA transcription level was strongly reduced in two independent microcystin-lacking mutants under all light conditions investigated.

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