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

Different functions of HetR, a master regulator of heterocyst differentiation in Anabaena sp. PCC 7120, can be separated by mutation.

The HetR protein has long been recognized as a key player in the regulation of heterocyst development. HetR is known to possess autoproteolytic and DNA-binding activities. During a search for mutants of Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 that can overcome heterocyst suppression caused by overexpression of the patS gene, which encodes a negative regulator of differentiation, a bypass mutant strain, S2-45, was isolated that produced a defective pattern (Pat phenotype) of irregularly spaced single and multiple contiguous heterocysts (Mch phenotype) in combined nitrogen-free medium. 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. Ectopic overexpression of the hetRR223W allele in the hetRR223W background resulted in a conditionally lethal (complete differentiation) phenotype. Analysis of the heterocyst pattern in the hetRR223W mutant revealed that heterocysts differentiate essentially randomly along filaments, indicating that this mutation results in an active protein that is insensitive to the major signals governing heterocyst pattern formation. These data provide genetic evidence that, apart from being an essential activator of differentiation, HetR plays a central role in the signaling pathway that controls the heterocyst pattern.[1]


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