A Global Transcriptional Switch between the Attack and Growth Forms of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus

Iris Karunker, Or Rotem, Mally Dori-Bachash, Edouard Jurkevitch, Rotem Sorek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus is an obligate predator of bacteria ubiquitously found in the environment. Its life cycle is composed of two essential phases: a free-living, non-replicative, fast swimming attack phase (AP) wherein the predator searches for prey; and a non-motile, actively dividing growth phase (GP) in which it consumes the prey. The molecular regulatory mechanisms governing the switch between AP and GP are largely unknown. We used RNA-seq to generate a single-base-resolution map of the Bdellovibrio transcriptome in AP and GP, revealing a specific "AP" transcriptional program, which is largely mutually exclusive of the GP program. Based on the expression map, most genes in the Bdellovibrio genome are classified as "AP only" or "GP only". We experimentally generated a genome-wide map of 140 AP promoters, controlling the majority of AP-specific genes. This revealed a common sigma-like DNA binding site highly similar to the E. coli flagellar genes regulator sigma28 (FliA). Further analyses suggest that FliA has evolved to become a global AP regulator in Bdellovibrio. Our results also reveal a non-coding RNA that is massively expressed in AP. This ncRNA contains a c-di-GMP riboswitch. We suggest it functions as an intracellular reservoir for c-di-GMP, playing a role in the rapid switch from AP to GP.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere61850
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 16 Apr 2013


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