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Tubulysins are bioactive secondary metabolites produced by myxobacteria that promote microtubule disassembly. Microtubules are required for protozoa such as Tetrahymena to form cilia and flagella. To study the role of tubulysins in myxobacteria, we co-cultured myxobacteria and Tetrahymena. When 4000 Tetrahymena thermophila and 5.0 × 108 myxobacteria were added to 1 ml of CYSE medium and co-cultured for 48 h, the population of T. thermophila increased to more than 75,000. However, co-culturing tubulysin-producing myxobacteria, including Archangium gephyra KYC5002, with T. thermophila caused the population of T. thermophila to decrease from 4000 to less than 83 within 48 h. Almost no dead bodies of T. thermophila were observed in the culture medium. Co-culturing of T. thermophila and the A. gephyra KYC5002 strain with inactivation of the tubulysin biosynthesis gene led to the population of T. thermophila increasing to 46,667. These results show that in nature, most myxobacteria are preyed upon by T. thermophila, but some myxobacteria prey on and kill T. thermophila using tubulysins. Adding purified tubulysin A to T. thermophila changed the cell shape from ovoid to spherical and caused cell surface cilia to disappear. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Microbiological Society of Korea.


Uisang Yu, Jiha Kim, Seohui Park, Kyungyun Cho. Tubulysins are Essential for the Preying of Ciliates by Myxobacteria. Journal of microbiology (Seoul, Korea). 2023 Jun;61(6):627-632

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PMID: 37314675

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