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Microbiology. 2008 Oct;154(Pt 10):3134-3143. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2008/020222-0.

The cyanobacterial homologue of the RNA chaperone Hfq is essential for motility of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803.

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1Humboldt-University Berlin, Institute of Biology, Chausseestr. 117, 10115 Berlin, Germany.
2Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Charitéplatz 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
3University of Freiburg, Faculty of Biology, Schänzlestr. 1, 79104 Freiburg, Germany.
4Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Institute of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32, 35392 Giessen, Germany.


The ssr3341 locus was previously suggested to encode an orthologue of the RNA chaperone Hfq in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803. Insertional inactivation of this gene resulted in a mutant that was not naturally transformable and exhibited a non-phototactic phenotype compared with the wild-type. The loss of motility was complemented by reintroduction of the wild-type gene, correlated with the re-establishment of type IV pili on the cell surface. Microarray analyses revealed a small set of genes with drastically reduced transcript levels in the knockout mutant compared with the wild-type cells. Among the most strongly affected genes, slr1667, slr1668, slr2015, slr2016 and slr2018 stood out, as they belong to two operons that had previously been shown to be involved in motility, controlled by the cAMP receptor protein SYCRP1. This suggests a link between cAMP signalling, motility and possibly the involvement of RNA-based regulation. This is believed to be the first report demonstrating a functional role of an Hfq orthologue in cyanobacteria, establishing a new factor in the control of motility.

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