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Gene Review

patS  -  heterocyst-inhibiting signaling peptide

Nostoc sp. PCC 7120

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Disease relevance of patS

  • Summary In the filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 patS and hetN suppress the differentiation of vegetative cells into nitrogen-fixing heterocysts to establish and maintain a pattern of single heterocysts separated by approximately 10 undifferentiated vegetative cells [1].

High impact information on patS

  • Overexpression of a 54-base-pair gene, patS, blocked heterocyst differentiation in Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 [2].
  • Analysis of the S2-45 mutant revealed a R223W mutation in HetR, and reconstruction in the wild-type background showed that this mutation was responsible for the Mch phenotype and resistance not only to overexpressed patS, but also to overexpressed hetN, another negative regulator of differentiation [3].
  • HetR binds the promoter regions of hetR, hepA, and patS, suggesting a direct control of the expression of these genes by HetR [4].
  • We present evidence that shows that the up-regulation of patS and hetR depends on DNA binding by HetR dimer [4].
  • A functional patS gene was necessary for the delayed multiple-contiguous-heterocyst phenotype observed in hetN mutants as well as for the relative lack of intercalary heterocysts in patA mutants [5].

Chemical compound and disease context of patS

  • Extracopy hetL allowed heterocyst formation in a patS overexpression strain. hetL overexpression from a heterologous promoter in wild-type Anabaena PCC 7120 induced multiple-contiguous heterocysts (Mch) in nitrate-containing medium [6].

Biological context of patS


Associations of patS with chemical compounds

  • In vegetative cells grown on nitrate, the 5' end of a transcript for patS was localized 314 bases upstream from the first translation initiation codon [7].

Regulatory relationships of patS


Other interactions of patS

  • Although differentiation proceeds unchecked in the absence of patS and hetN expression, differentiation is asynchronous and non-random [1].
  • The 489-bp hetY gene (alr2300), which is adjacent to patS (asl2301), encodes a protein that belongs to a conserved family of bacterial hypothetical proteins that contain an ATP-binding motif [9].


  1. Inactivation of patS and hetN causes lethal levels of heterocyst differentiation in the filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120. Borthakur, P.B., Orozco, C.C., Young-Robbins, S.S., Haselkorn, R., Callahan, S.M. Mol. Microbiol. (2005) [Pubmed]
  2. Heterocyst pattern formation controlled by a diffusible peptide. Yoon, H.S., Golden, J.W. Science (1998) [Pubmed]
  3. Different functions of HetR, a master regulator of heterocyst differentiation in Anabaena sp. PCC 7120, can be separated by mutation. Khudyakov, I.Y., Golden, J.W. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2004) [Pubmed]
  4. HetR homodimer is a DNA-binding protein required for heterocyst differentiation, and the DNA-binding activity is inhibited by PatS. Huang, X., Dong, Y., Zhao, J. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2004) [Pubmed]
  5. Epistasis analysis of four genes from Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 suggests a connection between PatA and PatS in heterocyst pattern formation. Orozco, C.C., Risser, D.D., Callahan, S.M. J. Bacteriol. (2006) [Pubmed]
  6. hetL overexpression stimulates heterocyst formation in Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120. Liu, D., Golden, J.W. J. Bacteriol. (2002) [Pubmed]
  7. PatS and products of nitrogen fixation control heterocyst pattern. Yoon, H.S., Golden, J.W. J. Bacteriol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  8. patS minigenes inhibit heterocyst development of Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120. Wu, X., Liu, D., Lee, M.H., Golden, J.W. J. Bacteriol. (2004) [Pubmed]
  9. Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 hetY gene influences heterocyst development. Yoon, H.S., Lee, M.H., Xiong, J., Golden, J.W. J. Bacteriol. (2003) [Pubmed]
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