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Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Aug;38(14):4586-98. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkq214. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

CdnL, a member of the large CarD-like family of bacterial proteins, is vital for Myxococcus xanthus and differs functionally from the global transcriptional regulator CarD.

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Departamento de Genética y Microbiología, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain.


CarD, a global transcriptional regulator in Myxococcus xanthus, interacts with CarG via CarDNter, its N-terminal domain, and with DNA via a eukaryotic HMGA-type C-terminal domain. Genomic analysis reveals a large number of standalone proteins resembling CarDNter. These constitute, together with the RNA polymerase (RNAP) interacting domain, RID, of transcription-repair coupling factors, the CarD_TRCF protein family. We show that one such CarDNter-like protein, M. xanthus CdnL, cannot functionally substitute CarDNter (or vice versa) nor interact with CarG. Unlike CarD, CdnL is vital for growth, and lethality due to its absence is not rescued by homologs from various other bacteria. In mycobacteria, with no endogenous DksA, the function of the CdnL homolog mirrors that of Escherichia coli DksA. Our finding that CdnL, like DksA, is indispensable in M. xanthus implies that they are not functionally redundant. Cells are normal on CdnL overexpression, but divide aberrantly on CdnL depletion. CdnL localizes to the nucleoid, suggesting piggyback recruitment by factors such as RNAP, which we show interacts with CdnL, CarDNter and RID. Our study highlights a complex network of interactions involving these factors and RNAP, and points to a vital role for M. xanthus CdnL in an essential DNA transaction that affects cell division.

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