A new player in the regulatory cascade controlling heterocyst differentiation in cyanobacteria.
Mol Microbiol. 2010 Aug;77(3):537-9
Authors: Haselkorn R
Heterocysts are terminally differentiated cells that fix nitrogen in filaments of the cyanobacterium Anabaena PCC 7120. They differentiate from vegetative cells at regular intervals along each filament. The developmental process is initiated by an increase in the ratio of reduced carbon to reduced nitrogen. This cue triggers protein NtcA to activate transcription of nrrA, which leads to transcription of the hetR gene. HetR is a master transcription factor required for expression of many heterocyst-specific genes. One such gene is hetP, shown by Higa and Callahan in this edition of Molecular Microbiology to be able to replace hetR for most of the downstream events required for a functional heterocyst. Ectopic production of HetP in a hetR mutant allows the differentiation of heterocysts. These heterocysts can fix nitrogen under anaerobic conditions but they are unable to provide wild-type protection of nitrogenase from oxygen, so they cannot bypass all of the duties of HetR. Additionally, the 5'-flanking region of the hetP gene provides the best-characterized binding site for the HetR protein so far, a seven-base pair inverted repeat.
PMID: 20545863 [PubMed - in process]