Ammonium transport proteins with changes in one of the conserved pore histidines have different performance in ammonia and methylamine conduction.
ABSTRACT: Two conserved histidine residues are located near the mid-point of the conduction channel of ammonium transport proteins. The role of these histidines in ammonia and methylamine transport was evaluated by using a combination of in vivo studies, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, and potential of mean force (PMF) calculations. Our in vivo results showed that a single change of either of the conserved histidines to alanine leads to the failure to transport methylamine but still facilitates good growth on ammonia, whereas double histidine variants completely lose their ability to transport both methylamine and ammonia. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated the molecular basis of the in vivo observations. They clearly showed that a single histidine variant (H168A or H318A) of AmtB confines the rather hydrophobic methylamine more strongly than ammonia around the mutated sites, resulting in dysfunction in conducting the former but not the latter molecule. PMF calculations further revealed that the single histidine variants form a potential energy well of up to 6 kcal/mol for methylamine, impairing conduction of this substrate. Unlike the single histidine variants, the double histidine variant, H168A/H318A, of AmtB was found to lose its unidirectional property of transporting both ammonia and methylamine. This could be attributed to a greatly increased frequency of opening of the entrance gate formed by F215 and F107, in this variant compared to wild-type, with a resultant lowering of the energy barrier for substrate to return to the periplasm.
Project description:In Escherichia coli, each subunit of the trimeric channel protein AmtB carries a hydrophobic pore for transport of NH(4)(+) across the cytoplasmic membrane. Positioned along this substrate conduction pathway are two conserved elements--a pair of hydrogen-bonded histidines (H168/H318) located within the pore itself and a set of aromatic residues (F107/W148/F215) at its periplasmic entrance--thought to be critical to AmtB function. Using site-directed mutagenesis and suppressor genetics, we examined the requirement for these elements in NH(4)(+) transport. This analysis shows that AmtB can accommodate, by either direct substitution or suppressor generation, acidic residues at one or both positions of the H168/H318 twin-histidine site while retaining near wild-type activity. Similarly, study of the F107/W148/F215 triad indicates that good-to-excellent AmtB function is preserved upon individual and simultaneous replacement of these aromatic amino acids with aliphatic residues. Our findings lead us to conclude that these elements and their component parts are not required for AmtB function, but instead serve to optimize its performance.
Project description:Ammonium is one of the most important nitrogen sources for bacteria, fungi, and plants, but it is toxic to animals. The ammonium transport proteins (methylamine permeases/ammonium transporters/rhesus) are present in all domains of life; however, functional studies with members of this family have yielded controversial results with respect to the chemical identity (NH(4)(+) or NH(3)) of the transported species. We have solved the structure of wild-type AmtB from Escherichia coli in two crystal forms at 1.8- and 2.1-A resolution, respectively. Substrate transport occurs through a narrow mainly hydrophobic pore located at the center of each monomer of the trimeric AmtB. At the periplasmic entry, a binding site for NH(4)(+) is observed. Two phenylalanine side chains (F107 and F215) block access into the pore from the periplasmic side. Further into the pore, the side chains of two highly conserved histidine residues (H168 and H318) bridged by a H-bond lie adjacent, with their edges pointing into the cavity. These histidine residues may facilitate the deprotonation of an ammonium ion entering the pore. Adiabatic free energy calculations support the hypothesis that an electrostatic barrier between H168 and H318 hinders the permeation of cations but not that of the uncharged NH(3.) The structural data and energetic considerations strongly indicate that the methylamine permeases/ammonium transporters/rhesus proteins are ammonia gas channels. Interestingly, at the cytoplasmic exit of the pore, two different conformational states are observed that might be related to the inactivation mechanism by its regulatory partner.
Project description:Members of the Amt family of channels mediate the transport of ammonium. The form of ammonium, NH3 or NH4(+), carried by these proteins remains controversial, and the mechanism by which they select against K(+) ions is unclear. We describe here a set of Escherichia coli AmtB proteins carrying mutations at the conserved twin-histidine site within the conduction pore that have altered substrate specificity and now transport K(+). Subsequent work established that AmtB-mediated K(+) uptake occurred against a concentration gradient and was membrane potential-dependent. These findings indicate that the twin-histidine element serves as a filter to prevent K(+) conduction and strongly support the notion that Amt proteins transport cations (NH4(+) or, in mutant proteins, K(+)) rather than NH3 gas molecules through their conduction pores.
Project description:To investigate substrate recruitment and transport across the Escherichia coli Ammonia transporter B (AmtB) protein, we performed molecular dynamics simulations of the AmtB trimer. We have identified residues important in recruitment of ammonium and intraluminal binding sites selective of ammonium, which provide a means of cation selectivity. Our results indicate that A162 guides translocation of an extraluminal ammonium into the pore lumen. We propose a mechanism for transporting the intraluminally recruited proton back to periplasm. Our mechanism conforms to net transport of ammonia and can explain why ammonia conduction is lost upon mutation of the conserved residue D160. We unify previous suggestions of D160 having either a structural or an ammonium binding function. Finally, our simulations show that the channel lumen is hydrated from the cytoplasmic side via the formation of single file water, while the F107/F215 stack at the inner-most part of the periplasmic vestibule constitutes a hydrophobic filter preventing AmtB from conducting water.
Project description:Amt proteins are ubiquitous channels for the conduction of ammonia in archaea, eubacteria, fungi, and plants. In Escherichia coli, previous studies have indicated that binding of the PII signal transduction protein GlnK to the ammonia channel AmtB regulates the channel thereby controlling ammonium influx in response to the intracellular nitrogen status. Here, we describe the crystal structure of the complex between AmtB and GlnK at a resolution of 2.5 A. This structure of PII in a complex with one of its targets reveals physiologically relevant conformations of both AmtB and GlnK. GlnK interacts with AmtB almost exclusively via a long surface loop containing Y51 (T-loop), the tip of which inserts deeply into the cytoplasmic pore exit, blocking ammonia conduction. Y51 of GlnK is also buried in the pore exit, explaining why uridylylation of this residue prevents complex formation.
Project description:AmtB, a member of the Rh/Amt/MEP superfamily, is responsible for ammonia transport in Escherichia coli. The ammonia pathway in AmtB consists of a narrow hydrophobic lumen in between hydrophilic periplasmic and cytoplasmic vestibules. A series of molecular dynamics simulations (greater than 0.4 ?s in total) were performed to determine the mechanism of solute recruitments and selectivity by the periplasmic vestibule. The results show that the periplasmic vestibule plays a crucial role in solute selectivity, and its solute preferences follow the order of NH4(+) > NH3 > CO2. Based on our results, NH4(+) recruitment is initiated by its interaction with either E70 or E225, highly conserved residues located at the entrance of the vestibule. Subsequently, the backbone carbonyl groups at the periplasmic vestibule direct NH4(+) to the conserved aromatic cage at the bottom of the vestibule (known as the Am1 site). The umbrella sampling simulations suggest that the conserved residue D160 is not directly involved in the ammonia conduction; rather its main function is to keep the structure of periplasmic vestibule intact. The MD simulations also revealed that two partially stacked phenyl rings of F107 and F215, separating the periplasmic vestibule from the hydrophobic lumen, flip open and closed simultaneously with a frequency of approximately 10(8) flipping events per second. These results show how the periplasmic vestibule selectively recruits NH4(+) to the Am1 site, and also that the synchronized flipping of two phenyl rings potentially facilitates the solute transition from the periplasmic vestibule to the hydrophobic lumen in the Rh/Amt/MEP superfamily.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In recent years, interest in Bacillus velezensis has increased significantly due to its role in many industrial water bioremediation processes. In this study, we isolated and assessed the transcriptome of Bacillus velezensis LG37 (from an aquaculture pond) under different nitrogen sources. Since Bacillus species exhibit heterogeneity, it is worth investigating the molecular mechanism of LG37 through ammonia nitrogen assimilation, where nitrogen in the form of molecular ammonia is considered toxic to aquatic organisms. RESULTS:Here, a total of 812 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) from the transcriptomic sequencing of LG37 grown in minimal medium supplemented with ammonia (treatment) or glutamine (control) were obtained, from which 56 had Fold Change ?2. BLAST-NCBI and UniProt databases revealed 27 out of the 56 DEGs were potentially involved in NH4+ assimilation. Among them, 8 DEGs together with the two-component regulatory system GlnK/GlnL were randomly selected for validation by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, and the results showed that expression of all the 8 DEGs are consistent with the RNA-seq data. Moreover, the transcriptome and relative expression analysis were consistent with the transporter gene amtB and it is not involved in ammonia transport, even in the highest ammonia concentrations. Besides, CRISPR-Cas9 knockout and overexpression glnK mutants further evidenced the exclusion of amtB regulation, suggesting the involvement of alternative transporter. Additionally, in the transcriptomic data, a novel ammonium transporter mnrA was expressed significantly in increased ammonia concentrations. Subsequently, OEmnrA and ?mnrA LG37 strains showed unique expression pattern of specific genes compared to that of wild-LG37 strain. CONCLUSION:Based on the transcriptome data, regulation of nitrogen related genes was determined in the newly isolated LG37 strain to analyse the key regulating factors during ammonia assimilation. Using genomics tools, the novel MnrA transporter of LG37 became apparent in ammonia transport instead of AmtB, which transports ammonium nitrogen in other Bacillus strains. Collectively, this study defines heterogeneity of B. velezensis LG37 through comprehensive transcriptome analysis and subsequently, by genome editing techniques, sheds light on the enigmatic mechanisms controlling the functional genes under different nitrogen sources also reveals the need for further research.
Project description:The Escherichia coli AmtB protein is member of the ubiquitous Amt family of ammonium transporters. Using a variety of [14C]methylammonium-uptake assays in wild-type E. coli, together with amtB and glutamine synthetase (glnA) mutants, we have shown that the filtration method traditionally used to measure [14C]methylammonium uptake actually measures intracellular accumulation of methylglutamine and that the kinetic data deduced from such experiments refer to the activity of glutamine synthetase and not to AmtB. Furthermore, the marked difference between the K(m) values of glutamine synthetase calculated in vitro and those calculated in vivo from our data suggest that ammonium assimilation by glutamine synthetase is coupled to the function of AmtB. The use of a modified assay technique allows us to measure AmtB activity in vivo. In this way, we have examined the role that AmtB plays in ammonium/methylammonium transport, in the light of conflicting proposals with regard to both the mode of action of Amt proteins and their substrate, i.e. ammonia or ammonium. Our in vivo data suggest that AmtB acts as a slowly conducting channel for NH3 that is neither dependent on the membrane potential nor on ATP. Furthermore, studies on competition between ammonium and methylammonium suggest that AmtB has a binding site for NH4+ on the periplasmic face.
Project description:Ammonia conductance is highly regulated. A P(II) signal transduction protein, GlnK, is the final regulator of transmembrane ammonia conductance by the ammonia channel AmtB in Escherichia coli. The complex formed between AmtB and inhibitory GlnK at 1.96-A resolution shows that the trimeric channel is blocked directly by GlnK and how, in response to intracellular nitrogen status, the ability of GlnK to block the channel is regulated by uridylylation/deuridylylation at Y51. ATP and Mg(2+) augment the interaction of GlnK. The hydrolyzed product, adenosine 5'-diphosphate orients the surface of GlnK for AmtB blockade. 2-Oxoglutarate diminishes AmtB/GlnK association, and sites for 2-oxoglutarate are evaluated.
Project description:The conduction mechanism of Escherichia coli AmtB, the structurally and functionally best characterized representative of the ubiquitous Amt/Rh family, has remained controversial in several aspects. The predominant view has been that it facilitates the movement of ammonium in its uncharged form as indicated by the hydrophobic nature of a pore located in the center of each subunit of the homotrimer. Using site-directed mutagenesis and a combination of biochemical and crystallographic methods, we have investigated mechanistic questions concerning the putative periplasmic ammonium ion binding site S1 and the adjacent periplasmic "gate" formed by two highly conserved phenylalanine residues, F107 and F215. Our results challenge models that propose that NH(4)(+) deprotonation takes place at S1 before NH(3) conduction through the pore. The presence of S1 confers two critical features on AmtB, both essential for its function: ammonium scavenging efficiency at very low ammonium concentration and selectivity against water and physiologically important cations. We show that AmtB activity absolutely requires F215 but not F107 and that removal or obstruction of the phenylalanine gate produces an open but inactive channel. The phenyl ring of F215 must thus play a very specific role in promoting transfer and deprotonation of substrate from S1 to the central pore. We discuss these results with respect to three distinct mechanisms of conduction that have been considered so far. We conclude that substrate deprotonation is an essential part of the conduction mechanism, but we do not rule out net electrogenic transport.