Computational and experimental analyses reveal the essential roles of interdomain linkers in the biological function of chemotaxis histidine kinase CheA.
ABSTRACT: A two-component signal transduction pathway underlies the phenomenon of bacterial chemotaxis that allows bacteria to modulate their swimming behavior in response to environmental stimuli. The dimeric five-domain histidine kinase, CheA, plays a central role in the pathway, converting sensory signals to a chemical signal via trans-autophosphorylation between the P1 and P4 domains. This autophosphorylation is regulated via the networked interactions among the P5 domain of CheA, CheW, and chemoreceptors. Despite a wealth of structural information about these components and their interactions, the key question of how the kinase activity of the catalytic P4 domain is regulated by the signal received from the regulatory P5 domain remains poorly understood. We performed replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations on the CheA kinase core and found that while individual domains maintained their structural fold, these domains exhibited a variety of interdomain orientations due to two interdomain linkers. A partially populated conformation that adopts an interdomain arrangement is suitable for building a functional ternary complex. An allosteric network derived from this structural model implies critical roles for two linkers in CheA's activity. The biochemical and biological functions of these linkers were assigned via a series of biochemical and genetic assays that show the P4-P5 linker controls the activation of CheA and the P3-P4 linker controls both the basal autophosphorylation activity and the activation of CheA. These results reveal the functional dependence between the two linkers and the essential role of the linkers in passing signal information from one domain to another.
Project description:The histidine kinase CheA plays a central role in signal integration, conversion, and amplification in the bacterial chemotaxis signal transduction pathway. The kinase activity is regulated in chemotaxis signaling complexes formed via the interactions among CheA's regulatory domain (P5), the coupling protein CheW, and transmembrane chemoreceptors. Despite recent advancements in the understanding of the architecture of the signaling complex, the molecular mechanism underlying this regulation remains elusive. An interdomain linker that connects the catalytic (P4) and regulatory domains of CheA may mediate regulatory signals from the P5-CheW-receptor interactions to the catalytic domain. To investigate whether this interdomain linker is capable of both activating and inhibiting CheA, we performed <i>in vivo</i> screens to search for P4-P5 linker mutations that result in different CheA autokinase activities. Several CheA variants were identified with kinase activities ranging from 30% to 670% of the activity of wild-type CheA. All of these CheA variants were defective in receptor-mediated kinase activation, indicating that the natural receptor-mediated signal transmission pathway was simultaneously affected by these mutations. The altered P4-P5 linkers were sufficient for making significant changes in the kinase activity even in the absence of the P5 domain. Therefore, the interdomain linker is an active module that has the ability to impose regulatory effects on the catalytic activity of the P4 domain. These results suggest that chemoreceptors may manipulate the conformation of the P4-P5 linker to achieve CheA regulation in the platform of the signaling complex.<b>IMPORTANCE</b> The molecular mechanism underlying kinase regulation in bacterial chemotaxis signaling complexes formed by the regulatory domain of the histidine kinase CheA, the coupling protein CheW, and chemoreceptors is still unknown. We isolated and characterized mutations in the interdomain linker that connects the catalytic and regulatory domains of CheA and found that the linker mutations resulted in different CheA autokinase activities in the absence and presence of the regulatory domain as well as a defect in receptor-mediated kinase activation. These results demonstrate that the interdomain linker is an active module that has the ability to impose regulatory effects on CheA activity. Chemoreceptors may manipulate the conformation of this interdomain linker to achieve CheA regulation in the platform of the signaling complex.
Project description:The histidine kinase, CheA, couples environmental stimuli to changes in bacterial swimming behavior, converting a sensory signal to a chemical signal in the cytosol via autophosphorylation. The kinase activity is regulated in the platform of chemotaxis signaling complexes formed by CheW, chemoreceptors, and the regulatory domain of CheA. Our previous computational and mutational studies have revealed that two interdomain linkers play important roles in CheA's enzymatic activity. Of the two linkers, one that connects the dimerization and ATP binding domains is essential for both basal autophosphorylation and activation of the kinase. However, the mechanistic role of this linker remains unclear, given that it is far from the autophosphorylation reaction center (the ATP binding site). Here we investigate how this interdomain linker is coupled to CheA's enzymatic activity. Using modern nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, we find that by interacting with the catalytic domain, the interdomain linker initiates long-range structural and dynamic changes directed toward the catalytic center of the autophosphorylation reaction. Subsequent biochemical assays define the functional relevance of these NMR-based observations. These findings extend our understanding of the chemotaxis signal transduction pathway.
Project description:During bacterial chemotaxis, transmembrane chemoreceptor arrays regulate autophosphorylation of the dimeric histidine kinase CheA. The five domains of CheA (P1-P5) each play a specific role in coupling receptor stimulation to CheA activity. Biochemical and X-ray scattering studies of thermostable CheA from Thermotoga maritima determine that the His-containing substrate domain (P1) is sequestered by interactions that depend upon P1 of the adjacent subunit. Non-hydrolyzable ATP analogs (but not ATP or ADP) release P1 from the protein core (domains P3P4P5) and increase its mobility. Detachment of both P1 domains or removal of one within a dimer increases net autophosphorylation substantially at physiological temperature (55°C). However, nearly all activity is lost without the dimerization domain (P3). The linker length between P1 and P3 dictates intersubunit (trans) versus intrasubunit (cis) autophosphorylation, with the trans reaction requiring a minimum length of 47 residues. A new crystal structure of the most active dimerization-plus-kinase unit (P3P4) reveals trans directing interactions between the tether connecting P3 to P2-P1 and the adjacent ATP-binding (P4) domain. The orientation of P4 relative to P3 in the P3P4 structure supports a planar CheA conformation that is required by membrane array models, and it suggests that the ATP lid of CheA may be poised to interact with receptors and coupling proteins. Collectively, these data suggest that the P1 domains are restrained in the off-state as a result of cross-subunit interactions. Perturbations at the nucleotide-binding pocket increase P1 mobility and access of the substrate His to P4-bound ATP.
Project description:The signaling apparatus that controls bacterial chemotaxis is composed of a core complex containing chemoreceptors, the histidine autokinase CheA, and the coupling protein CheW. Site-specific spin labeling and pulsed dipolar ESR spectroscopy (PDS) have been applied to investigate the structure of a soluble ternary complex formed by Thermotoga maritima CheA (TmCheA), CheW, and receptor signaling domains. Thirty-five symmetric spin-label sites (SLSs) were engineered into the five domains of the CheA dimer and CheW to provide distance restraints within the CheA:CheW complex in the absence and presence of a soluble receptor that inhibits kinase activity (Tm14). Additional PDS restraints among spin-labeled CheA, CheW, and an engineered single-chain receptor labeled at six different sites allow docking of the receptor structure relative to the CheA:CheW complex. Disulfide cross-linking between selectively incorporated Cys residues finds two pairs of positions that provide further constraints within the ternary complex: one involving Tm14 and CheW and another involving Tm14 and CheA. The derived structure of the ternary complex indicates a primary site of interaction between CheW and Tm14 that agrees well with previous biochemical and genetic data for transmembrane chemoreceptors. The PDS distance distributions are most consistent with only one CheW directly engaging one dimeric Tm14. The CheA dimerization domain (P3) aligns roughly antiparallel to the receptor-conserved signaling tip but does not interact strongly with it. The angle of the receptor axis with respect to P3 and the CheW-binding P5 domains is bound by two limits differing by approximately 20 degrees . In one limit, Tm14 aligns roughly along P3 and may interact to some extent with the hinge region near the P3 hairpin loop. In the other limit, Tm14 tilts to interact with the P5 domain of the opposite subunit in an interface that mimics that observed with the P5 homologue CheW. The time domain ESR data can be simulated from the model only if orientational variability is introduced for the P5 and, especially, P3 domains. The Tm14 tip also binds beside one of the CheA kinase domains (P4); however, in both bound and unbound states, P4 samples a broad range of distributions that are only minimally affected by Tm14 binding. The CheA P1 domains that contain the substrate histidine are also broadly distributed in space under all conditions. In the context of the hexagonal lattice formed by trimeric transmembrane chemoreceptors, the PDS structure is best accommodated with the P3 domain in the center of a honeycomb edge.
Project description:Chemoreceptor arrays are supramolecular transmembrane machines of unknown structure that allow bacteria to sense their surroundings and respond by chemotaxis. We have combined X-ray crystallography of purified proteins with electron cryotomography of native arrays inside cells to reveal the arrangement of the component transmembrane receptors, histidine kinases (CheA) and CheW coupling proteins. Trimers of receptor dimers lie at the vertices of a hexagonal lattice in a "two-facing-two" configuration surrounding a ring of alternating CheA regulatory domains (P5) and CheW couplers. Whereas the CheA kinase domains (P4) project downward below the ring, the CheA dimerization domains (P3) link neighboring rings to form an extended, stable array. This highly interconnected protein architecture underlies the remarkable sensitivity and cooperative nature of transmembrane signaling in bacterial chemotaxis.
Project description:In Escherichia coli chemosensory arrays, transmembrane receptors, a histidine autokinase CheA, and a scaffolding protein CheW interact to form an extended hexagonal lattice of signaling complexes. One interaction, previously assigned a crucial signaling role, occurs between chemoreceptors and the CheW-binding P5 domain of CheA. Structural studies showed a receptor helix fitting into a hydrophobic cleft at the boundary between P5 subdomains. Our work aimed to elucidate the in vivo roles of the receptor-P5 interface, employing as a model the interaction between E. coli CheA and Tsr, the serine chemoreceptor. Crosslinking assays confirmed P5 and Tsr contacts in vivo and their strict dependence on CheW. Moreover, the P5 domain only mediated CheA recruitment to polar receptor clusters if CheW was also present. Amino acid replacements at CheA.P5 cleft residues reduced CheA kinase activity, lowered serine response cooperativity, and partially impaired chemotaxis. Pseudoreversion studies identified suppressors of P5 cleft defects at other P5 groove residues or at surface-exposed residues in P5 subdomain 1, which interacts with CheW in signaling complexes. Our results indicate that a high-affinity P5-receptor binding interaction is not essential for core complex function. Rather, P5 groove residues are probably required for proper cleft structure and/or dynamic behavior, which likely impact conformational communication between P5 subdomains and the strong binding interaction with CheW that is necessary for kinase activation. We propose a model for signal transmission in chemotaxis signaling complexes in which the CheW-receptor interface plays the key role in conveying signaling-related conformational changes from receptors to the CheA kinase.
Project description:Phosphorylation-based signaling pathways employ dephosphorylation mechanisms for signal termination. Histidine to aspartate phosphosignaling in the two-component system that controls bacterial chemotaxis has been studied extensively. Rhodobacter sphaeroides has a complex chemosensory pathway with multiple homologues of the Escherichia coli chemosensory proteins, although it lacks homologues of known signal-terminating CheY-P phosphatases, such as CheZ, CheC, FliY or CheX. Here, we demonstrate that an unusual CheA homologue, CheA(3), is not only a phosphodonor for the principal CheY protein, CheY(6), but is also is a specific phosphatase for CheY(6)-P. This phosphatase activity accelerates CheY(6)-P dephosphorylation to a rate that is comparable with the measured stimulus response time of approximately 1 s. CheA(3) possesses only two of the five domains found in classical CheAs, the Hpt (P1) and regulatory (P5) domains, which are joined by a 794-amino acid sequence that is required for phosphatase activity. The P1 domain of CheA(3) is phosphorylated by CheA(4), and it subsequently acts as a phosphodonor for the response regulators. A CheA(3) mutant protein without the 794-amino acid region lacked phosphatase activity, retained phosphotransfer function, but did not support chemotaxis, suggesting that the phosphatase activity may be required for chemotaxis. Using a nested deletion approach, we showed that a 200-amino acid segment of CheA(3) is required for phosphatase activity. The phosphatase activity of previously identified nonhybrid histidine protein kinases depends on the dimerization and histidine phosphorylation (DHp) domains. However, CheA(3) lacks a DHp domain, suggesting that its phosphatase mechanism is different from that of other histidine protein kinases.
Project description:In bacterial chemotaxis, transmembrane chemoreceptors, the CheA histidine kinase, and the CheW coupling protein assemble into signaling complexes that allow bacteria to modulate their swimming behavior in response to environmental stimuli. Among the protein-protein interactions in the ternary complex, CheA-CheW and CheW-receptor interactions were studied previously, whereas CheA-receptor interaction has been less investigated. Here, we characterize the CheA-receptor interaction in Thermotoga maritima by NMR spectroscopy and validate the identified receptor binding site of CheA in Escherichia coli chemotaxis. We find that CheA interacts with a chemoreceptor in a manner similar to that of CheW, and the receptor binding site of CheA's regulatory domain is homologous to that of CheW. Collectively, the receptor binding sites in the CheA-CheW complex suggest that conformational changes in CheA are required for assembly of the CheA-CheW-receptor ternary complex and CheA activation.
Project description:Bacterial chemoreceptors associate with the histidine kinase CheA and coupling protein CheW to form extended membrane arrays that receive and transduce environmental signals. A receptor trimers-of-dimers resides at each vertex of the hexagonal protein lattice. CheA is fully activated and regulated when it is integrated into the receptor assembly. To mimic these states in solution, we have engineered chemoreceptor cytoplasmic kinase-control modules (KCMs) based on the Escherichia coli aspartate receptor Tar that are covalently fused and trimerized by a foldon domain (Tar(FO)). Small-angle X-ray scattering, multi-angle light scattering, and pulsed-dipolar electron spin resonance spectroscopy of spin-labeled proteins indicate that the Tar(FO) modules assemble into homogeneous trimers wherein the protein interaction regions closely associate at the end opposite to the foldon domains. The Tar(FO) variants greatly increase the saturation levels of phosphorylated CheA (CheA-P), indicating that the association with a trimer of receptor dimers changes the fraction of active kinase. However, the rate constants for CheA-P formation with the Tar variants are low compared to those for autophosphorylation by free CheA, and net phosphotransfer from CheA to CheY does not increase commensurately with CheA autophosphorylation. Thus, the Tar variants facilitate slow conversion to an active form of CheA that then undergoes stable autophosphorylation and is capable of subsequent phosphotransfer to CheY. Free CheA is largely incapable of phosphorylation but contains a small active fraction. Addition of Tar(FO) to CheA promotes a planar conformation of the regulatory domains consistent with array models for the assembly state of the ternary complex and different from that observed with a single inhibitory receptor. Introduction of Tar(FO) into E. coli cells activates endogenous CheA to produce increased clockwise flagellar rotation, with the effects increasing in the presence of the chemotaxis methylation system (CheB/CheR). Overall, the Tar(FO) modules demonstrate that trimerized signaling tips self-associate, bind CheA and CheW, and facilitate conversion of CheA to an active conformation.
Project description:In the bacterial chemotaxis two-component signaling system, the histidine-containing phosphotransfer domain (the "P1" domain) of CheA receives a phosphoryl group from the catalytic domain (P4) of CheA and transfers it to the cognate response regulator (RR) CheY, which is docked by the P2 domain of CheA. Phosphorylated CheY then diffuses into the cytoplasm and interacts with the FliM moiety of the flagellar motors, thereby modulating the direction of flagellar rotation. Structures of various histidine phosphotransfer domains (HPt) complexed with their cognate RR domains have been reported. Unlike the Escherichia coli chemotaxis system, however, these systems lack the additional domains dedicated to binding to the response regulators, and the interaction of an HPt domain with an RR domain in the presence of such a domain has not been examined on a structural basis. In this study, we used modern nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to construct a model for the interaction of the E. coli CheA P1 domain (HPt) and CheY (RR) in the presence of the CheY-binding domain, P2. Our results indicate that the presence of P2 may lead to a slightly different relative orientation of the HPt and RR domains versus those seen in such complex structures previously reported.