The gene for a sigma factor (rpoD) was cloned from Myxococcus xanthus, a soil bacterium which differentiates to form fruiting bodies upon starvation for nutrients. The DNA sequence of the gene was determined, and an open reading frame encoding a polypeptide of 708 amino acid residues (Mr = 80,391) was identified. Except for the amino-terminal sequence consisting of 100 residues, the M. xanthus sigma factor (sigma-80) showed extensive similarity with Escherichia coli sigma-70 as well as Bacillus subtilis sigma-43. In particular, the carboxy-terminal sequence of 242 residues that is known to be required for promoter recognition and core recognition showed 78 and 72% amino acid sequence identity with the E. coli and B. subtilis sigma factors, respectively. The putative RpoD protein was detected at the position of an apparent molecular weight of 86,000 by Western blot (immunoblot) analysis by using antiserum against B. subtilis sigma-43, which agreed well with the position of a vegetative sigma factor of M. xanthus previously identified by Rudd and Zusman (K. Rudd and D. R. Zusman, J. Bacteriol. 151:89-105, 1982).