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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Collaborative signaling by mixed chemoreceptor teams in Escherichia coli.

Chemoreceptors of the methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein family form clusters, typically at the cell pole(s), in both Bacteria and Archaea. To elucidate the architecture and signaling role of receptor clusters, we investigated interactions between the serine (Tsr) and aspartate (Tar) chemoreceptors in Escherichia coli by constructing Tsr mutations at the six hydrophobic and five polar residues implicated in "trimer of dimers" formation. Tsr mutants with proline replacements could not mediate serine chemotaxis, receptor clustering, or clockwise flagellar rotation. Alanine and tryptophan mutants, although also nonchemotactic, formed receptor clusters, and some produced clockwise flagellar rotation, indicating receptor-coupled activation of the signaling CheA kinase. The alanine and tryptophan mutants evidently assemble defective receptor complexes that cannot modulate CheA activity in response to serine stimuli. In cells containing wild-type Tar receptors, tryptophan replacements in Tsr interfered with Tar function, whereas four Tsr mutants with alanine replacements regained Tsr function. These epistatic and rescuable phenotypes imply interactions between Tsr and Tar dimers in higher-order signaling teams. The bulky side chain in tryptophan mutants may prevent stimulus-induced conformational changes in the team, whereas the small side chain in alanine mutants may permit signaling control when teamed with functional receptor molecules. Direct physical interactions between Tsr and Tar molecules were observed by in vivo chemical crosslinking. Wild-type Tsr crosslinked to Tar, whereas a clustering-defective proline replacement mutant did not. These findings indicate that bacterial chemoreceptor clusters are comprised of signaling teams, seemingly based on trimers of dimers, that can contain different receptor types acting collaboratively.[1]


  1. Collaborative signaling by mixed chemoreceptor teams in Escherichia coli. Ames, P., Studdert, C.A., Reiser, R.H., Parkinson, J.S. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2002) [Pubmed]
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