Lehner J.,Interfaculty Institute for Microbiology and Infection Medicine |
Zhang Y.,University of Tübingen |
Berendt S.,Interfaculty Institute for Microbiology and Infection Medicine |
Rasse T.M.,University of Tübingen |
And 2 more authors.
Molecular Microbiology | Year: 2011
Filamentous cyanobacteria of the order Nostocales are primordial multicellular organisms, a property widely considered unique to eukaryotes. Their filaments are composed of hundreds of mutually dependent vegetative cells and regularly spaced N 2-fixing heterocysts, exchanging metabolites and signalling molecules. Furthermore, they may differentiate specialized spore-like cells and motile filaments. However, the structural basis for cellular communication within the filament remained elusive. Here we present that mutation of a single gene, encoding cell wall amidase AmiC2, completely changes the morphology and abrogates cell differentiation and intercellular communication. Ultrastructural analysis revealed for the first time a contiguous peptidoglycan sacculus with individual cells connected by a single-layered septal cross-wall. The mutant forms irregular clusters of twisted cells connected by aberrant septa. Rapid intercellular molecule exchange takes place in wild-type filaments, but is completely abolished in the mutant, and this blockage obstructs any cell differentiation, indicating a fundamental importance of intercellular communication for cell differentiation in Nostoc. AmiC2-GFP localizes in the cell wall with a focus in the cross walls of dividing cells, implying that AmiC2 processes the newly synthesized septum into a functional cell-cell communication structure during cell division. AmiC2 thus can be considered as a novel morphogene required for cell-cell communication, cellular development and multicellularity. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.