Nucleotide second messengers are universally crucial factors for the signal transduction of various organisms. In prokaryotes, cyclic nucleotide messengers are involved in the bacterial life cycle and function, such as virulence, biofilm formation, and others mainly via gene regulation. Here we show that the swimming motility of a soil bacterium is rapidly modulated by cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) synthesized upon light exposure. Analysis of a loss-of-photoresponsivity mutant obtained by transposon random mutagenesis determined the novel sensory gene, and its expression in Escherichia coli through codon optimization revealed the light-dependent synthesis of cAMP. GFP labeling showed the localization of the photoresponsive enzyme at the cell poles where flagellar motors reside. The present findings highlight the new role of cAMP that rapidly controls the flagella-dependent bacterial motility and the global distribution of the discovered photoactivated cyclase among diverse microbial species.
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