A novel protein kinase that controls carbon catabolite repression in bacteria

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HPr(Ser) kinase is the sensor in a multicomponent phosphorelay system that controls catabolite repression, sugar transport and carbon metabolism in Grampositive bacteria. Unlike most other protein kinases, it recognizes the tertiary structure in its target protein, HPr, a phosphocarrier protein of the bacterial phosphotransferase system and a transcriptional cofactor controlling the phenomenon of catabolite repression. We have identified the gene (ptsK) encoding this serine/threonine protein kinase and characterized the purified protein product. Orthologues of PtsK have been identified only in bacteria. These proteins constitute a novel family unrelated to other previously characterized protein phosphorylating enzymes. The Bacillus subtilis kinase is shown to be allosterically activated by metabolites such as fructose 1,6-bisphosphate and inhibited by inorganic phosphate. In contrast to wild-type B. subtilis, the ptsK mutant is insensitive to transcriptional regulation by catabolite repression. The reported results advance our understanding of phosphorylation-dependent carbon control mechanisms in Gram-positive bacteria.

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