Coordination of Division and Development Influences Complex Multicellular Behavior in Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Kim, Jinwoo; Heindl, Jason E.; Fuqua, Clay
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The α-Proteobacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens has proteins homologous to known regulators that govern cell division and development in Caulobacter crescentus, many of which are also conserved among diverse α-Proteobacteria. In light of recent work demonstrating similarity between the division cycle of C. crescentus and that of A. tumefaciens, the functional conservation for this presumptive control pathway was examined. In C. crescentus the CtrA response regulator serves as the master regulator of cell cycle progression and cell division. CtrA activity is controlled by an integrated pair of multi-component phosphorelays: PleC/DivJ-DivK and CckA-ChpT-CtrA. Although several of the conserved orthologues appear to be essential in A. tumefaciens, deletions in pleC or divK were isolated and resulted in cell division defects, diminished swimming motility, and a decrease in biofilm formation. A. tumefaciens also has two additional pleC/divJ homologue sensor kinases called pdhS1 and pdhS2, absent in C. crescentus. Deletion of pdhS1 phenocopied the ΔpleC and ΔdivK mutants. Cells lacking pdhS2 morphologically resembled wild-type bacteria, but were decreased in swimming motility and elevated for biofilm formation, suggesting that pdhS2 may serve to regulate the motile to non-motile switch in A. tumefaciens. Genetic analysis suggests that the PleC/DivJ-DivK and CckA-ChpT-CtrA phosphorelays in A. tumefaciens are vertically-integrated, as in C. crescentus. A gain-of-function mutation in CckA (Y674D) was identified as a spontaneous suppressor of the ΔpleC motility phenotype. Thus, although the core architecture of the A. tumefaciens pathway resembles that of C. crescentus there are specific differences including additional regulators, divergent pathway architecture, and distinct target functions.


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