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Analysis of the DNA sequence directly upstream of the chemotaxis operon of Rhodobacter sphaeroides identified a single gene whose product has strong similarity to the methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins (MCPs) found in enteric bacteria. The deduced protein had a highly conserved signalling sequence and only one very hydrophobic region at the N-terminus, in contrast to enteric MCPs. A possible cytoplasmic location of the majority of the protein was supported by Western blotting. The mcpA gene was insertionally inactivated and the resulting phenotype examined using swarm plate assays. The mutant lacking McpA lost chemotaxis to a wide range of attractant stimuli but only under aerobic conditions; it retained almost normal chemotaxis under anaerobic/photosynthetic conditions. The identification of a sensory protein which is active only under one set of growth conditions suggests that R. sphaeroides probably has several MCPs, which co-ordinately respond to changes in environmental conditions. Southern hybridization at relaxed stringency to the conserved sequence of the R. sphaeroides and Caulobacter crescentus mcp genes identified three possible additional mcp genes.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Microbiol

Publication Date





115 - 121


Amino Acid Sequence, Bacterial Proteins, Blotting, Southern, Blotting, Western, Cell Compartmentation, Chemotaxis, Gene Library, Membrane Proteins, Methyl-Accepting Chemotaxis Proteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutagenesis, Insertional, Phenotype, Rhodobacter sphaeroides, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid