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Title: The cyanobacterial taxis protein HmpF regulates type IV pilus activity in response to light

Motility is ubiquitous in prokaryotic organisms including the photosynthetic cyanobacteria where surface motility powered by type 4 pili (T4P) is common and facilitates phototaxis to seek out favorable light environments. In cyanobacteria, chemotaxis-like systems are known to regulate motility and phototaxis. The characterized phototaxis systems rely on methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins containing bilin-binding GAF domains capable of directly sensing light, and the mechanism by which they regulate the T4P is largely undefined. In this study we demonstrate that cyanobacteria possess a second, GAF-independent, means of sensing light to regulate motility and provide insight into how a chemotaxis-like system regulates the T4P motors. A combination of genetic, cytological, and protein–protein interaction analyses, along with experiments using the proton ionophore carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazine, indicate that the Hmp chemotaxis-like system of the model filamentous cyanobacteriumNostoc punctiformeis capable of sensing light indirectly, possibly via alterations in proton motive force, and modulates direct interaction between the cyanobacterial taxis protein HmpF, and Hfq, PilT1, and PilT2 to regulate the T4P motors. Given that the Hmp system is widely conserved in cyanobacteria, and the finding from this study that orthologs of HmpF and T4P proteins from the distantly related model unicellular cyanobacteriumSynechocystissp. strain PCC6803 interact in a similar manner to theirN. punctiformecounterparts, it is likely that this represents a ubiquitous means of regulating motility in response to light in cyanobacteria.

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Publisher / Repository:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Article No. e2023988118
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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