The asg mutants of Myxococcus xanthus are defective in production of extracellular A-signal, which serves as a cell density signal for fruiting-body development. The DNA sequence of asgB, one of the three asg genes, was determined. The deduced amino acid sequence of AsgB contains a DNA-binding helix-turn-helix motif near the C terminus. This putative helix-turn-helix is highly similar to the helix-turn-helix in region 4.2 of major sigma factors, which is the region that recognizes and interacts with -35 sequences of promoters. We propose that AsgB is a transcription factor that binds to DNA sequences similar to the -35 hexamer, TTGACA. Analyses of asgB RNA levels and expression of an asgB-lacZ translational fusion indicate that expression of asgB remains fairly constant during the transition from growth into early development. The mutation within the asgB480 allele was identified as an A-to-G transition that results in a threonine-to-alanine substitution in the predicted protein product. Attempts to replace the wild-type copy of asgB with a null allele failed, indicating that asgB may be essential for growth
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