When deprived of combined nitrogen, aerobically-grown filaments ofAnabaena sp. strain PCC7120 differentiate specialized cells called the heterocysts. The differentiation process is an elaborate and well orchestrated programme involving sensing of environmental and developmental signals, commitment of cells to development, gene rearrangements, intricate DNA-protein interactions, and differential expression of several genes. It culminates in a physiological division of labour between heterocysts, which become the sole sites of aerobic nitrogen fixation, and vegetative cells, that provide photosynthate to the heterocysts in return for nitrogen supplies. We propose a model, to describe the chronology of the important events and to explain how cell type-specific differential gene expression is facilitated by DNA-protein interactions leading to the development of heterocysts and constitution of nitrogen-fixing apparatus inAnabaena.
Volume 46, 2021
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