The gene product is a member of the subfamily of small GTP-binding proteins that have been identified in diverse organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. In bacteria that sporulate or display another special developmental programme, this gene (referred to as , or ) appears to be involved in the regulation of these processes. However, this gene has also been found to be essential in all bacterial species investigated to date, although its role in bacteria that do not sporulate and do not undergo a specific development remains unknown. Here the authors characterize a mutant bearing a transposon insertion into the gene. This mutant reveals a multiple phenotype: it grows more slowly than the wild-type strain in a rich medium; its growth is completely inhibited in minimal media; its survival in 3% NaCl is dramatically reduced; it is very sensitive to UV irradiation; it is more susceptible to mutation upon treatment with different mutagens; its luminescence is decreased; its quorum-sensing regulation is less effective than in the wild-type strain; and the elongated shape of the mutant cells may suggest problems with the regulation of cell division and/or DNA replication. These defects in diverse cellular processes found in the insertional mutant of indicate that in a bacterium that does not sporulate and does not display other special development programmes, the CgtA protein is involved in the regulation of many crucial biochemical reactions, possibly at the stage of signal transduction.


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