Mutations in FlbD that relieve the dependency on flagellum assembly alter the temporal and spatial pattern of developmental transcription in Caulobacter crescentus

Authors

  • Rachel E. Muir,

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1569, USA.
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  • James W. Gober

    1. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1569, USA.
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*For correspondence. E-mail gober@chem.ucla.edu; Tel. (+1) 310 206 9449; Fax (+1) 310 206 5213.

Summary

The transcription factor FlbD regulates the temporal and spatial transcription of flagellar genes in the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. Activation of FlbD requires cell cycle progression and the assembly of an early (class II) flagellum structure. In this report, we identify 20 independent gain-of-function mutations in flbD that relieve regulation by flagellar assembly. One of these, flbD-1204, contained a mutation in the receiver domain (V17M) and another, flbD-1231, in the DNA binding domain (V451G). Both of these mutations resulted in an aberrant pattern of cell cycle transcription. The presence of the FlbD-1204 allele also resulted in a loss of swarmer-pole-specific transcription. These results indicate that temporal and spatial transcription is influenced by the assembly of the nascent flagellar structure. The trans-acting positive and negative regulatory factor, FliX, couples flagellar assembly to the activation of FlbD and, as we show here, also influences temporal transcription. Furthermore, we show that FliX can suppress the activity of FlbD mutants that cannot be phosphorylated, and that FliX is required for FlbD stability, and vice versa. These results indicate that FliX may interact directly with FlbD to regulate its activity.

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