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Mol Biol Cell. Oct 1995; 6(10): 1367–1380.
PMCID: PMC301293

Computer analysis of the binding reactions leading to a transmembrane receptor-linked multiprotein complex involved in bacterial chemotaxis.


The chemotactic response of bacteria is mediated by complexes containing two molecules each of a transmembrane receptor and the intracellular signaling proteins CheA and CheW. Mutants in which one or the other of the proteins of this complex are absent, inactive, or expressed at elevated amounts show altered chemotactic behavior and the phenotypes are difficult to interpret for some overexpression mutants. We have examined the possibility that these unexpected phenotypes might arise from the binding steps that lead to active complex formation. A limited genetic algorithm was used to search for sets of binding reactions and associated binding constants expected to give mutant phenotypes in accord with experimental data. Different sets of binding equilibria and different assumptions about the activity of particular receptor complexes were tried. Computer analysis demonstrated that it is possible to obtain sets of binding equilibria consistent with the observed phenotypes and provided a simple explanation for these phenotypes in terms of the distribution of active and inactive complexes formed under various conditions. Optimization methods of this kind offer a unique way to analyze reactions taking place inside living cells based on behavioral data.

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