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J Bacteriol. 2006 Apr;188(7):2473-82.

Mutations in DivL and CckA rescue a divJ null mutant of Caulobacter crescentus by reducing the activity of CtrA.

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Indiana University, Department of Biology, 1001 E. 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


Polar development and cell division in Caulobacter crescentus are controlled and coordinated by multiple signal transduction proteins. divJ encodes a histidine kinase. A null mutation in divJ results in a reduced growth rate, cell filamentation, and mislocalized stalks. Suppressor analysis of divJ identified mutations in genes encoding the tyrosine kinase (divL) and the histidine kinase (cckA). The divL and cckA suppressor alleles all have single amino acid substitutions, some of which confer a temperature-sensitive phenotype, particularly in a wild-type background. Analysis of transcription levels from several positively regulated CtrA-dependent promoters reveals high expression in the divJ mutant, suggesting that DivJ normally serves to reduce CtrA activity. The divL and cckA suppressors reduce the amount of transcription from promoters positively regulated by CtrA, indicating that the mutations in divL and cckA are suppressing the defects of the divJ mutant by reducing the abnormally high level of CtrA activity. Immunoblotting showed no major perturbations in the CtrA protein level in any of these strains, suggesting that the high amount of CtrA activity seen in the divJ mutant and the reduced amount of activity in the suppressors are regulated at the level of activation and not transcription, translation, or degradation. In vivo phosphorylation assays confirmed that divJ mutants have elevated levels of CtrA phosphorylation and that this level is reduced in the suppressors with mutations in divL.

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