Specificity of the BvgAS and EvgAS phosphorelay is mediated by the C-terminal HPt domains of the sensor proteins

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Abstract

Summary

Despite the presence of highly conserved signalling modules, significant cross-communication between different two-component systems has only rarely been observed. Domain swapping and the characterization of liberated signalling modules enabled us to characterize in vitro the protein domains that mediate specificity and are responsible for the high fidelity in the phosphorelay of the unorthodox Bvg and Evg two-component systems. Under equimolar conditions, significant in vitro phosphorylation of purified BvgA and EvgA proteins was only obtained by their histidine kinases, BvgS and EvgS respectively. One hybrid histidine kinase consisting of the BvgS transmitter and HPt domains and of the EvgS receiver domain (BvgS-TO-EvgS-R) was able to phosphorylate BvgA but not EvgA. In contrast, the hybrid protein consisting of the BvgS transmitter and the EvgS receiver and HPt domains (BvgS-T-EvgS-RO) was unable to phosphorylate BvgA but efficiently phosphorylated EvgA. These results demonstrate that the C-terminal HPt domains of the sensor proteins endow the unorthodox two-component systems with a high specificity for the corresponding regulator protein. In the case of the response regulators, the receiver but not the output domains contribute to the specific interaction with the histidine kinases, because a hybrid protein consisting of the EvgA receiver and the BvgA output domain could only be phosphorylated by the EvgS protein.

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