The Vibrio harveyi cgtA gene product belongs to a subfamily of small GTP-binding proteins, called Obg-like proteins. Members of this subfamily are present in diverse organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. On the other hand, the functions of these proteins in the regulation of cellular processes are largely unknown. Genes coding for these proteins are essential in almost all bacteria investigated thus far. However, a viable V. harveyi insertional mutant in the cgtA gene was described recently. Therefore, this mutant gives a unique opportunity to study functions of a member of the subfamily of Obg-like proteins. Here we demonstrate that the mutant cells often form long filaments with expanded, non-partitioned or rarely partitioned chromosomes. Such a phenotype suggests impairment of the mechanism of chromosome partition. Flow cytometric studies revealed that synchronization of chromosome replication initiation is also significantly disturbed in the cgtA mutant. Moreover, in contrast to wild-type V. harveyi, inhibition of chromosome replication and/or of cell division in the mutant bacteria caused significant increase in the number of large cells, suggesting that the cgtA gene product may be involved in the coupling of cell growth to chromosome replication and cell division. These results indicate that CgtA, an Obg-like GTP-binding protein, plays an important role in the regulation of chromosomal functions.

Abbreviations used: DAPI, 4′,6-diaminidino-2-phenylindole; TCA, trichloracetic acid.

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