Overexpression of SepJ alters septal morphology and heterocyst pattern regulated by diffusible signals in Anabaena.
968 - 981
MetadataShow full item record
Filamentous, N2 -fixing, heterocyst-forming cyanobacteria grow as chains of cells that are connected by septal junctions. In the model organism Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120, the septal protein SepJ is required for filament integrity, normal intercellular molecular exchange, heterocyst differentiation, and diazotrophic growth. An Anabaena strain overexpressing SepJ made wider septa between vegetative cells than the wild type, which correlated with a more spread location of SepJ in the septa as observed with a SepJ-GFP fusion, and contained an increased number of nanopores, the septal peptidoglycan perforations that likely accommodate septal junctions. The septa between heterocysts and vegetative cells, which are narrow in wild-type Anabaena, were notably enlarged in the SepJ-overexpressing mutant. Intercellular molecular exchange tested with fluorescent tracers was increased for the SepJ-overexpressing strain specifically in the case of calcein transfer between vegetative cells and heterocysts. These results support an association between calcein transfer, SepJ-related septal junctions, and septal peptidoglycan nanopores. Under nitrogen deprivation, the SepJ-overexpressing strain produced an increased number of contiguous heterocysts but a decreased percentage of total heterocysts. These effects were lost or altered in patS and hetN mutant backgrounds, supporting a role of SepJ in the intercellular transfer of regulatory signals for heterocyst differentiation.