BldC delays entry into development to produce a sustained period of vegetative growth in Streptomyces venezuelae
Streptomycetes are filamentous bacteria that differentiate by producing spore-bearing reproductive structures called aerial hyphae. The transition from vegetative to reproductive growth is controlled by the bld (bald) loci, and mutations in bld genes prevent the formation of aerial hyphae, either by blocking entry into development (mutations in activators) or by inducing precocious sporulation in the vegetative mycelium (mutations in repressors). One of the bld genes, bldC, encodes a 68-residue protein with a winged Helix-Turn-Helix (wHTH) DNA-binding motif. Recent work has shown that BldC binds DNA by a novel mechanism, but there is less insight into its impact on Streptomyces development. Here we exploit the benefits of the new model species, Streptomyces venezuelae, which sporulates in liquid culture, to study the biological role of BldC. Using electron microscopy and time-lapse imaging, we show that bldC mutants are bald because they initiate development prematurely, bypassing the formation of aerial hyphae. This correlates with premature expression of BldC target genes, showing that BldC acts as a repressor to sustain vegetative growth and delay entry into development.
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