Role of translational coupling in robustness of bacterial chemotaxis pathway.
ABSTRACT: Chemotaxis allows bacteria to colonize their environment more efficiently and to find optimal growth conditions, and is consequently under strong evolutionary selection. Theoretical and experimental analyses of bacterial chemotaxis suggested that the pathway has been evolutionarily optimized to produce robust output under conditions of such physiological perturbations as stochastic intercellular variations in protein levels while at the same time minimizing complexity and cost of protein expression. Pathway topology in Escherichia coli apparently evolved to produce an invariant output under concerted variations in protein levels, consistent with experimentally observed transcriptional coupling of chemotaxis genes. Here, we show that the pathway robustness is further enhanced through the pairwise translational coupling of adjacent genes. Computer simulations predicted that the robustness of the pathway against the uncorrelated variations in protein levels can be enhanced by a selective pairwise coupling of individual chemotaxis genes on one mRNA, with the order of genes in E. coli ranking among the best in terms of noise compensation. Translational coupling between chemotaxis genes was experimentally confirmed, and coupled expression of these genes was shown to improve chemotaxis. Bioinformatics analysis further revealed that E. coli gene order corresponds to consensus in sequenced bacterial genomes, confirming evolutionary selection for noise reduction. Since polycistronic gene organization is common in bacteria, translational coupling between adjacent genes may provide a general mechanism to enhance robustness of their signaling and metabolic networks. Moreover, coupling between expression of neighboring genes is also present in eukaryotes, and similar principles of noise reduction might thus apply to all cellular networks.
Project description:Bacteria move towards favourable and away from toxic environments by changing their swimming pattern. This response is regulated by the chemotaxis signalling pathway, which has an important feature: it uses feedback to 'reset' (adapt) the bacterial sensing ability, which allows the bacteria to sense a range of background environmental changes. The role of this feedback has been studied extensively in the simple chemotaxis pathway of Escherichia coli. However it has been recently found that the majority of bacteria have multiple chemotaxis homologues of the E. coli proteins, resulting in more complex pathways. In this paper we investigate the configuration and role of feedback in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, a bacterium containing multiple homologues of the chemotaxis proteins found in E. coli. Multiple proteins could produce different possible feedback configurations, each having different chemotactic performance qualities and levels of robustness to variations and uncertainties in biological parameters and to intracellular noise. We develop four models corresponding to different feedback configurations. Using a series of carefully designed experiments we discriminate between these models and invalidate three of them. When these models are examined in terms of robustness to noise and parametric uncertainties, we find that the non-invalidated model is superior to the others. Moreover, it has a 'cascade control' feedback architecture which is used extensively in engineering to improve system performance, including robustness. Given that the majority of bacteria are known to have multiple chemotaxis pathways, in this paper we show that some feedback architectures allow them to have better performance than others. In particular, cascade control may be an important feature in achieving robust functionality in more complex signalling pathways and in improving their performance.
Project description:Temperature is a global factor that affects the performance of all intracellular networks. Robustness against temperature variations is thus expected to be an essential network property, particularly in organisms without inherent temperature control. Here, we combine experimental analyses with computational modeling to investigate thermal robustness of signaling in chemotaxis of Escherichia coli, a relatively simple and well-established model for systems biology. We show that steady-state and kinetic pathway parameters that are essential for chemotactic performance are indeed temperature-compensated in the entire physiological range. Thermal robustness of steady-state pathway output is ensured at several levels by mutual compensation of temperature effects on activities of individual pathway components. Moreover, the effect of temperature on adaptation kinetics is counterbalanced by preprogrammed temperature dependence of enzyme synthesis and stability to achieve nearly optimal performance at the growth temperature. Similar compensatory mechanisms are expected to ensure thermal robustness in other systems.
Project description:Robustness and sensitivity of responses generated by cell signaling networks has been associated with survival and evolvability of organisms. However, existing methods analyzing robustness and sensitivity of signaling networks ignore the experimentally observed cell-to-cell variations of protein abundances and cell functions or contain ad hoc assumptions. We propose and apply a data-driven maximum entropy based method to quantify robustness and sensitivity of Escherichia coli (E. coli) chemotaxis signaling network. Our analysis correctly rank orders different models of E. coli chemotaxis based on their robustness and suggests that parameters regulating cell signaling are evolutionary selected to vary in individual cells according to their abilities to perturb cell functions. Furthermore, predictions from our approach regarding distribution of protein abundances and properties of chemotactic responses in individual cells based on cell population averaged data are in excellent agreement with their experimental counterparts. Our approach is general and can be used to evaluate robustness as well as generate predictions of single cell properties based on population averaged experimental data in a wide range of cell signaling systems.
Project description:Flagellated bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, perform directed motion in gradients of concentration of attractants and repellents in a process called chemotaxis. The E. coli chemotaxis signaling pathway is a model for signal transduction, but it has unique features. We demonstrate that the need for fast signaling necessitates high abundances of the proteins involved in this pathway. We show that further constraints on the abundances of chemotaxis proteins arise from the requirements of self-assembly both of flagellar motors and of chemoreceptor arrays. All these constraints are specific to chemotaxis, and published data confirm that chemotaxis proteins tend to be more highly expressed than their homologs in other pathways. Employing a chemotaxis pathway model, we show that the gain of the pathway at the level of the response regulator CheY increases with overall chemotaxis protein abundances. This may explain why, at least in one E. coli strain, the abundance of all chemotaxis proteins is higher in media with lower nutrient content. We also demonstrate that the E. coli chemotaxis pathway is particularly robust to abundance variations of the motor protein FliM.
Project description:Structure-based elastic network models (ENMs) have been remarkably successful in describing conformational transitions in a variety of biological systems. Low-frequency normal modes are usually calculated from the ENM that characterizes elastic interactions between residues in contact in a given protein structure with a uniform force constant. To explore the dynamical effects of nonuniform elastic interactions, we calculate the robustness and coupling of the low-frequency modes in the presence of nonuniform variations in the ENM force constant. The variations in the elastic interactions, approximated here by Gaussian noise, approximately account for perturbation effects of heterogeneous residue-residue interactions or evolutionary sequence changes within a protein family. First-order perturbation theory provides an efficient and qualitatively correct estimate of the mode robustness and mode coupling for finite perturbations to the ENM force constant. The mode coupling analysis and the mode robustness analysis identify groups of strongly coupled modes that encode for protein functional motions. We illustrate the new concepts using myosin II motor protein as an example. The biological implications of mode coupling in tuning the allosteric couplings among the actin-binding site, the nucleotide-binding site, and the force-generating converter and lever arm in myosin isoforms are discussed. We evaluate the robustness of the correlation functions that quantify the allosteric couplings among these three key structural motifs.
Project description:cj0371 is a novel gene that is associated with Campylobacter jejuni virulence, and an isogenic mutant of cj0371 showed hyper chemotaxis and motility. Chemotactic motility is an important virulence factor and is involved in C. jejuni pathogenesis. Campylobacter sp. has specific variations of the common chemotaxis components, including histidine autokinase CheA, coupling scaffold protein CheV, chemotaxis response regulator protein CheY and several chemoreceptor proteins. In this study, we used immunoprecipitation combined with LC-MS/MS analyses to screen six chemotaxis pathway proteins that potentially interact with the putative protein Cj0371. qRT-PCR was used to quantitatively analyze the expression of these chemotaxis genes and basic flagella genes. The results showed that the expression of cheV, cj1110c, and cj0262c was significantly up-regulated, and four flagella genes also had up-regulated expression in the cj0371 mutant. GST pull-down analyses found that Cj0371 interacted with the receiver domain of the CheV protein. Enzyme-coupled spectrophotometric assays showed that the ATPase activity of CheA was higher when Cj0371 was not present in the chemotaxis reaction medium. Therefore, we concludes that cj0371 has a negative influence on C. jejuni chemotaxis, which may occur by adjusting the receiver domain of CheV to influence chemotaxis. This paper provides a new component in the chemotaxis pathway of C. jejuni for the first time and highlight the complexity of this remarkable pathway.
Project description:Comparable processes in different species often involve homologous genes. One question is whether the network structure, in particular the feedback control structure, is also conserved. The bacterial chemotaxis pathways in E. coli and B. subtilis both regulate the same task, namely, excitation and adaptation to environmental signals. Both pathways employ many orthologous genes. Yet how these orthologs contribute to network function in each organism is different. To investigate this problem, we propose what is to our knowledge the first computational model for B. subtilis chemotaxis and compare it to previously published models for chemotaxis in E. coli. The models reveal that the core control strategy for signal processing is the same in both organisms, though in B. subtilis there are two additional feedback loops that provide an additional layer of regulation and robustness. Furthermore, the network structures are different despite the similarity of the proteins in each organism. These results demonstrate the limitations of pathway inferences based solely on homology and suggest that the control strategy is an evolutionarily conserved property.
Project description:Extracellular stimuli in chemotaxis of Escherichia coli and other bacteria are processed by large clusters of sensory complexes. The stable core of these clusters is formed by transmembrane receptors, a kinase CheA, and an adaptor CheW, whereas adaptation enzymes CheR and CheB dynamically associate with the clusters via interactions with receptors and/or CheA. Several biochemical studies have indicated the dependence of the sensory complex stability on the adaptive modification state of receptors and/or on temperature, which may potentially allow environment-dependent tuning of its signalling properties. However, the extent of such regulation in vivo and its significance for chemotaxis remained unclear.Here we used fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to confirm in vivo that the exchange of CheA and CheW shows a modest dependency on the level of receptor modification/activity. An even more dramatic effect was observed for the exchange kinetics of CheR and CheB, indicating that their association with clusters may depend on the ability to bind substrate sites on receptors and on the regulatory phosphorylation of CheB. In contrast, environmental temperature did not have a discernible effect on stability of the cluster core. Strain-specific loss of E. coli chemotaxis at high temperature could instead be explained by a heat-induced reduction in the chemotaxis protein levels. Nevertheless, high basal levels of chemotaxis and flagellar proteins in common wild type strains MG1655 and W3110 enabled these strains to maintain their chemotactic ability up to 42°C.Our results confirmed that clusters formed by less modified receptors are more dynamic, which can explain the previously observed adjustment of the chemotaxis response sensitivity according to the level of background stimulation. We further propose that the dependency of CheR exchange on the availability of unmethylated sites on receptors is important to improve the overall chemotaxis efficiency by suppressing molecular noise under conditions of high ligand concentrations. Moreover, the observed stability of the cluster core at high temperature is in line with the overall thermal robustness of the chemotaxis pathway and allows maintenance of chemotaxis up to 42°C in the common wild type strains of E. coli.
Project description:Cellular networks are intrinsically subject to stochastic fluctuations, but analysis of the resulting noise remained largely limited to gene expression. The pathway controlling chemotaxis of Escherichia coli provides one example where posttranslational signaling noise has been deduced from cellular behavior. This noise was proposed to result from stochasticity in chemoreceptor methylation, and it is believed to enhance environment exploration by bacteria. Here we combined single-cell FRET measurements with analysis based on the fluctuation-dissipation theorem (FDT) to characterize origins of activity fluctuations within the chemotaxis pathway. We observed surprisingly large methylation-independent thermal fluctuations of receptor activity, which contribute to noise comparably to the energy-consuming methylation dynamics. Interactions between clustered receptors involved in amplification of chemotactic signals are also necessary to produce the observed large activity fluctuations. Our work thus shows that the high response sensitivity of this cellular pathway also increases its susceptibility to noise, from thermal and out-of-equilibrium processes.
Project description:Eukaryotic protein synthesis is an inherently stochastic process. This stochasticity stems not only from variations in cell content between cells but also from thermodynamic fluctuations in a single cell. Ultimately, these inherently stochastic processes manifest as noise in gene expression, where even genetically identical cells in the same environment exhibit variation in their protein abundances. In order to elucidate the underlying sources that contribute to gene expression noise, we quantify the contribution of each step within the process of protein synthesis along the central dogma. We uncouple gene expression at the transcriptional, translational, and post-translational level using custom engineered circuits stably integrated in human cells using CRISPR. We provide a generalized framework to approximate intrinsic and extrinsic noise in a population of cells expressing an unbalanced two-reporter system. Our decomposition shows that the majority of intrinsic fluctuations stem from transcription and that coupling the two genes along the central dogma forces the fluctuations to propagate and accumulate along the same path, resulting in increased observed global correlation between the products.