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Chem Biol. 2012 Nov 21;19(11):1447-59. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2012.09.010.

Enhancer binding proteins act as hetero-oligomers and link secondary metabolite production to myxococcal development, motility, and predation.

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Department of Microbial Natural Products, Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research, Saarland (HIPS), Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Saarland University, Campus C2 3, D-66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.


Motile predatory Myxobacteria are producers of multiple secondary metabolites and, on starvation, undergo concerted cellular differentiation to form multicellular fruiting bodies. These abilities demand myxobacterial genomes to encode sophisticated regulatory networks that are not satisfactorily understood. Here, we present two bacterial enhancer binding proteins (bEBPs) encoded in Myxococcus xanthus acting as direct regulators of secondary metabolites intriguingly exhibiting activating and inhibitory effects. Elucidation of a regulon for each bEBP enabled us to unravel their role in myxococcal development, predation, and motility. Interestingly, both bEBPs are able to interact by forming a hetero-oligomeric complex. Our findings represent an alternative mode of operation of bEBPs, which are currently thought to enhance promoter activity by acting as homo-oligomers. Furthermore, a direct link between secondary metabolite gene expression and predation, motility, and cellular development could be shown for the first time.

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