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MBio. 2011 Aug 2;2(4). pii: e00110-11. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00110-11. Print 2011.

CrdS and CrdA comprise a two-component system that is cooperatively regulated by the Che3 chemosensory system in Myxococcus xanthus.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.


Myxococcus xanthus serves as a model organism for development and complex signal transduction. Regulation of developmental aggregation and sporulation is controlled, in part, by the Che3 chemosensory system. The Che3 pathway consists of homologs to two methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs), CheA, CheW, CheB, and CheR but not CheY. Instead, the output for Che3 is the NtrC homolog CrdA, which functions to regulate developmental gene expression. In this paper we have identified an additional kinase, CrdS, which directly regulates the phosphorylation state of CrdA. Both epistasis and in vitro phosphotransfer assays indicate that CrdS functions as part of the Che3 pathway and, in addition to CheA3, serves to regulate CrdA phosphorylation in M. xanthus. We provide kinetic data for CrdS autophosphorylation and demonstrate specificity for phosphotransfer from CrdS to CrdA. We further demonstrate that CheA3 destabilizes phosphorylated CrdA (CrdA~P), indicating that CheA3 likely acts as a phosphatase. Both CrdS and CheA3 control developmental progression by regulating the phosphorylation state of CrdA~P in the cell. These results support a model in which a classical two-component system and a chemosensory system act synergistically to control the activity of the response regulator CrdA. IMPORTANCE While phosphorylation-mediated signal transduction is well understood in prototypical chemotaxis and two-component systems (TCS), chemosensory regulation of alternative cellular functions (ACF) has not been clearly defined. The Che3 system in Myxococcus xanthus is a member of the ACF class of chemosensory systems and regulates development via the transcription factor CrdA (chemosensory regulator of development) (K. Wuichet and I. B. Zhulin, Sci. Signal. 3:ra50, 2010; J. R. Kirby and D. R. Zusman, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 100:2008-2013, 2003). We have identified and characterized a homolog of NtrB, designated CrdS, capable of specifically phosphorylating the NtrC homolog CrdA in M. xanthus. Additionally, we demonstrate that the CrdSA two-component system is negatively regulated by CheA3, the central processor within the Che3 system of M. xanthus. To our knowledge, this study provides the first example of an ACF chemosensory system regulating a prototypical two-component system and extends our understanding of complex regulation of developmental signaling pathways.

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