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EMBO J. 1995 Aug 15;14(16):3915-24.

An essential single domain response regulator required for normal cell division and differentiation in Caulobacter crescentus.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Lewis Thomas Laboratory, Princeton University, NJ 08544, USA.


Signal transduction pathways mediated by sensor histidine kinases and cognate response regulators control a variety of physiological processes in response to environmental conditions. Here we show that in Caulobacter crescentus these systems also play essential roles in the regulation of polar morphogenesis and cell division. Previous studies have implicated histidine kinase genes pleC and divJ in the regulation of these developmental events. We now report that divK encodes an essential, cell cycle-regulated homolog of the CheY/Spo0F subfamily and present evidence that this protein is a cognate response regulator of the histidine kinase PleC. The purified kinase domain of PleC, like that of DivJ, can serve as an efficient phosphodonor to DivK and as a phospho-DivK phosphatase. Based on these and earlier genetic results we propose that PleC and DivK are members of a signal transduction pathway that couples motility and stalk formation to completion of a late cell division cycle event. Gene disruption experiments and the filamentous phenotype of the conditional divK341 mutant reveal that DivK also functions in an essential signal transduction pathway required for cell division, apparently in response to another histidine kinase. We suggest that phosphotransfer mediated by these two-component signal transduction systems may represent a general mechanism regulating cell differentiation and cell division in response to successive cell cycle checkpoints.

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