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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 2;93(7):2675-9.

C factor, a cell-surface-associated intercellular signaling protein, stimulates the cytoplasmic Frz signal transduction system in Myxococcus xanthus.

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Department of Biochemistry, Standford University School of Medicine, CA 94305, USA.


C factor, an intercellular signaling protein, is required for aggregation and sporulation of the social bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus. We report that C factor, which normally is associated with the cell surface, provides input to the Frz signal transduction cascade. Elements of this cascade have sequence homology to bacterial chemotaxis systems and are known to control the frequency of gliding reversal. Exposure of developing cells of a C-factor-less mutant (csgA) to purified C factor increases the ratio of methylated to nonmethylated FrzCD protein, the Frz homolog of the methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins. Methylation depends on the cognate methyltransferase FrzF, and its extent increases with the concentration of C factor. C-factor-induced methylation also depends on the product of a gene, called class II, which is necessary in vivo for all known responses to C factor. A model for aggregation is proposed in which C factor stimulates the Frz cascade and thereby decreases cell reversals in a way that preferentially leads cells into an aggregate.

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