Regulation by Cyclic di-GMP in Myxococcus xanthus

  • María Pérez-Burgos
  • Lotte Søgaard-AndersenEmail author


Myxococcus xanthus has a complex lifecycle that is regulated by nutrient availability. In the presence of nutrients, M. xanthus cells grow, divide, and move to assemble into colonies that feed cooperatively either saprophytically or on prey. In response to starvation, a developmental program is initiated that culminates in formation of multicellular spore-filled fruiting bodies. The nucleotide-based second messenger cyclic di-GMP accumulates in M. xanthus and has critical functions in both stages of the lifecycle. Here, we describe the roles of cyclic di-GMP, its metabolizing proteins, and receptor proteins. During growth, the correct level of cyclic di-GMP is important for type IV pili-dependent motility. During development, the cyclic di-GMP level increases and a threshold concentration of cyclic di-GMP is essential for completion of the developmental program. By individually inactivating the genes involved in cyclic di-GMP synthesis or degradation, two diguanylate cyclases, DmxA and DmxB, were identified to function at specific stages of the lifecycle with DmxA involved in type IV pili-dependent motility and DmxB in development. Similarly, the phosphodiesterase PmxA is specifically important for development but functions independently of DmxB. Bioinformatics analyses suggest the existence of various cyclic di-GMP receptor proteins, a few of which have been confirmed experimentally while the remainder are still uncharacterized. We are only just beginning to understand regulation by cyclic di-GMP in M. xanthus and it will be exciting to identify all the processes regulated by cyclic di-GMP and the underlying mechanisms.


Cyclic di-GMP Myxobacteria Myxococcus xanthus Type IV pili Motility Development Exopolysaccharide Sporulation 



We thank Dorota Skotnicka for many helpful discussions. Work on cyclic di-GMP signaling in the authors’ laboratory is supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Council) within the framework of the SFB987 Microbial Diversity in Environmental Signal Response and the Priority Programme SPP 1879 Nucleotide Second Messenger Signaling in Bacteria as well as by the Max Planck Society.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EcophysiologyMax Planck Institute for Terrestrial MicrobiologyMarburgGermany

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