Regulation of Development and Nitrogen Fixation in Anabaena

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The nitrogen-fixing filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 is being used as a simple model of microbial development and pattern formation in a multicellular prokaryotic organism. Anabaena reduces atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia in highly specialized, terminally differentiated cells called heterocysts. Anabaena is an important model system because of the multicellular growth pattern, the suspected antiquity of heterocyst development, and the contribution of fixed nitrogen to the environment. We are especially interested in understanding the molecular signaling pathways and genetic regulation that control heterocyst development. In the presence of an external source of reduced nitrogen, the differentiation of heterocysts is ... continued below

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Golden, James W August 5, 2004.

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Description

The nitrogen-fixing filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 is being used as a simple model of microbial development and pattern formation in a multicellular prokaryotic organism. Anabaena reduces atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia in highly specialized, terminally differentiated cells called heterocysts. Anabaena is an important model system because of the multicellular growth pattern, the suspected antiquity of heterocyst development, and the contribution of fixed nitrogen to the environment. We are especially interested in understanding the molecular signaling pathways and genetic regulation that control heterocyst development. In the presence of an external source of reduced nitrogen, the differentiation of heterocysts is inhibited. When Anabaena is grown on dinitrogen, a one-dimensional developmental pattern of single heterocysts separated by approximately ten vegetative cells is established to form a multicellular organism composed of two interdependent cell types. The goal of this project is to understand the signaling and regulatory pathways that commit a vegetative cell to terminally differentiate into a nitrogen-fixing heterocyst. Several genes identified by us and by others were chosen as entry points into the regulatory network. Our research, which was initially focused on transcriptional regulation by group 2 sigma factors, was expanded to include group 3 sigma factors and their regulators after the complete Anabaena genome sequence became available. Surprisingly, no individual sigma factor is essential for heterocyst development. We have used the isolation of extragenic suppressors to study genetic interactions between key regulatory genes such as patS, hetR, and hetC in signaling and developmental pathways. We identified a hetR R223W mutation as a bypass suppressor of patS overexpression. Strains containing the hetR R223W allele fail to respond to pattern formation signals and overexpression of this allele results in a lethal phenotype because all cells differentiate a few days after nitrogen step-down. Our continued analysis of these genes will provide a better understanding of how a simple prokaryotic organism can perform both photosynthetic carbon fixation and nitrogen fixation simultaneously by separating these processes in different cell types.

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  • Report No.: DOE-ER020309-1
  • Grant Number: FG03-98ER20309
  • DOI: 10.2172/838436 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 838436
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc782323

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  • August 5, 2004

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  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • Aug. 5, 2016, 6:32 p.m.

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Golden, James W. Regulation of Development and Nitrogen Fixation in Anabaena, report, August 5, 2004; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc782323/: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.