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Genes Dev. 1990 Aug;4(8):1396-403.

Development-specific sigma-factor essential for late-stage differentiation of Myxococcus xanthus.

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Department of Biochemistry, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, UMDNJ Rutgers, Piscataway 08854.


The gene for a developmentally expressed sigma-factor, sigB, has been isolated from Myxococcus xanthus by use of the sigA gene (formerly rpoD) of the vegetative sigma-factor as a probe. The sequence of sigB has been determined, and an open reading frame of 193 amino acid residues (Mr = 21,551) was identified. The amino-terminal region of SigB contains 69 residues, of which 35 are identical (50% identity) to the region of SigA required for core RNA polymerase binding and initiation of RNA polymerization. SigB also possesses many features commonly found in other prokaryotic sigma-factors. Analysis of an M. xanthus strain carrying a sigB-lacZ fusion gene revealed that sigB is expressed from a middle to late stage of differentiation corresponding to the period from the onset of sporulation to late development. A sigB deletion mutant displayed normal mound formation and sporulation; however, production of the ops gene product in myxospores of the delta sigB strain was shown to be blocked. Myxospores from the sigB deletion strain also exhibited severe defects in stability and viability during late development. Our data indicate that sigB encodes a sigma-factor essential for the maturation of myxospores at a late stage of M. xanthus differentiation. Our results also suggest that differentiation of M. xanthus is regulated by development-specific sigma-factors.

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