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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

PatS and products of nitrogen fixation control heterocyst pattern.

The filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 forms a developmental pattern of single heterocysts separated by approximately 10 vegetative cells. Heterocysts differentiate from vegetative cells and are specialized for nitrogen fixation. The patS gene, which encodes a small peptide that inhibits heterocyst differentiation, is expressed in proheterocysts and plays a critical role in establishing the heterocyst pattern. Here we present further analysis of patS expression and heterocyst pattern formation. A patS-gfp reporter strain revealed clusters of patS- expressing cells during the early stage of heterocyst differentiation. PatS signaling is likely to be involved in the resolution of these clusters. Differentiating cells were inhibited by PatS during the time period 6 to 12 h after heterocyst induction, when groups of differentiating cells were being resolved to a single proheterocyst. Increased transcription of patS during development coincided with expression from a new transcription start site. 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. After heterocyst induction, a new transcript with a 5' end at -39 bases replaced the vegetative cell transcript. A patS mutant grown for several days under nitrogen-fixing conditions showed partial restoration of the normal heterocyst pattern, presumably because of a gradient of nitrogen compounds supplied by the heterocysts. The patS mutant formed heterocysts when grown in the presence of nitrate but showed no nitrogenase activity and no obvious heterocyst pattern. We conclude that PatS and products of nitrogen fixation are the main signals determining the heterocyst pattern.[1]


  1. PatS and products of nitrogen fixation control heterocyst pattern. Yoon, H.S., Golden, J.W. J. Bacteriol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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