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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Dec;30(5):1123-30.

A new set of chemotaxis homologues is essential for Myxococcus xanthus social motility.

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School of Dentistry, Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-1668, USA.


Myxococcus xanthus cells aggregate and develop into multicellular fruiting bodies in response to starvation. A new M. xanthus locus, designated diffor defective in fruiting, was identified by the characterization of a mutant defective in fruiting body formation. Molecular cloning, DNA sequencing and sequence analysis indicate that the dif locus encodes a new set of chemotaxis homologues of the bacterial chemotaxis proteins MCPs (methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins), CheW, CheY and CheA. The dif genes are distinct genetically and functionally from the previously identified M. xanthus frz chemotaxis genes, suggesting that multiple chemotaxis-like systems are required for the developmental process of M. xanthus fruiting body formation. Genetic analysis and phenotypical characterization indicate that the M. xanthus dif locus is required for social (S) motility. This is the first report of a M. xanthus chemotaxis-like signal transduction pathway that could regulate or co-ordinate the movement of M. xanthus cells to bring about S motility.

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