Fruiting body formation in Myxococcus xanthus involves the aggregation of cells to form mounds and the differentiation of rod-shaped cells into spherical myxospores. The surface of the myxospore is composed of several sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-soluble proteins, the best characterized of which is protein S (Mr, 19,000). We have identified a new major spore surface protein called protein C (Mr, 30,000). Protein C is not present in extracts of vegetative cells but appears in extracts of developing cells by 6 h. Protein C, like protein S, is produced during starvation in liquid medium but is not made during glycerol-induced sporulation. Its synthesis is blocked in certain developmental mutants but not others. When examined by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, two forms of protein C are observed. Protein C is quantitatively released from spores by treatment with 0.1 N NaOH or by boiling in 1% SDS. It is slowly washed from the spore surface in water but is stabilized by the presence of magnesium. Protein C binds to the surface of spores depleted of protein C and protein S. Protein C is a useful new marker for development in M. xanthus because it is developmentally regulated, spore associated, abundant, and easily purified
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