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  1. Sogaard-Andersen, Lotte (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Surface motility powered by type IV pili (T4P) is widespread among bacteria, including the photosynthetic cyanobacteria. This form of movement typically requires the deposition of a motility-associated polysaccharide, and several studies indicate that there is complex coregulation of T4P motor activity and polysaccharide production, although a mechanistic understanding of this coregulation is not fully defined. Here, using a combination of genetic, comparative genomic, transcriptomic, protein-protein interaction, and cytological approaches in the model filamentous cyanobacterium N. punctiforme , we provided evidence that a DnaK-type chaperone system coupled the activity of the T4P motors to the production of the motility-associated hormogonium polysaccharide (HPS). The results from these studies indicated that DnaK1 and DnaJ3 along with GrpE comprised a chaperone system that interacted specifically with active T4P motors and was required to produce HPS. Genomic conservation in cyanobacteria and the conservation of the protein-protein interaction network in the model unicellular cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC 6803 imply that this system is conserved among nearly all motile cyanobacteria and provides a mechanism to coordinate polysaccharide secretion and T4P activity in these organisms. IMPORTANCE Many bacteria, including photosynthetic cyanobacteria, exhibit type IV pili (T4P) driven surface motility. In cyanobacteria, this form of motility facilitates dispersal, phototaxis, the formation of supracellular structures, and the establishment of nitrogen-fixing symbioses with eukaryotes. T4P-powered motility typically requires the deposition of motility-associated polysaccharides, and previous studies indicate that T4P activity and polysaccharide production are intimately linked. However, the mechanism by which these processes are coupled is not well defined. Here, we identified and characterized a DnaK(Hsp70)-type chaperone system that coordinates these two processes in cyanobacteria. 
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  2. 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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