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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Dec 15, 1992; 89(24): 11915–11919.

Primary structure of an archaebacterial transducer, a methyl-accepting protein associated with sensory rhodopsin I.


A methylated membrane protein of 97 kDa was suggested on the basis of mutant analysis to transduce signals from the phototaxis receptor sensory rhodopsin I to the flagellar motor in Halobacterium halobium. Here we report isolation of the proposed transducer protein, cloning of its gene based on partial protein sequences, the complete gene sequence, and analysis of the encoded primary structure. The 1611-base-pair gene termination codon overlaps the initiator ATG of the sopI gene, which encodes the sensory rhodopsin I apoprotein. The predicted size of 57 kDa for the methylated protein indicates an aberrant electrophoretic migration on SDS/polyacrylamide gels, as occurs with other acidic halophilic proteins. Putative promotor elements are located in an A+T-rich region upstream of the gene. Comparison of the translated nucleotide sequence with N-terminal sequence of the purified protein shows the protein is synthesized without a processed leader peptide and the N-terminal methionine is removed in the mature protein. The deduced protein sequence predicts two transmembrane helices near the N terminal that would anchor the protein to the membrane. Beyond this hydrophobic region of 46 residues, the remainder of the protein (536-amino acid residues total) is hydrophilic. The C-terminal 270 residues contain a region homologous to the signaling domains of eubacterial transducers (e.g., Escherichia coli Tsr protein), flanked by two regions homologous to the methylation domains of the transducer family. The protein differs from E. coli Tsr in that it does not have an extramembranous-receptor binding domain but instead has a more extended cytoplasmic region. Coexpression of the methyl-accepting protein gene (designated htrI) and sopI restores sensory rhodopsin I phototaxis to a mutant (Pho81) that contains a deletion in the htrI/sopI region. These results extend the eubacterial transducer family to the archaebacteria and substantiate the proposal that the methylated membrane protein functions as a signal-transducing relay between sensory rhodopsin I and cytoplasmic sensory-pathway components.

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