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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2001 Mar;65(1):80-105.

P(II) signal transduction proteins, pivotal players in microbial nitrogen control.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom.


The P(II) family of signal transduction proteins are among the most widely distributed signal proteins in the bacterial world. First identified in 1969 as a component of the glutamine synthetase regulatory apparatus, P(II) proteins have since been recognized as playing a pivotal role in control of prokaryotic nitrogen metabolism. More recently, members of the family have been found in higher plants, where they also potentially play a role in nitrogen control. The P(II) proteins can function in the regulation of both gene transcription, by modulating the activity of regulatory proteins, and the catalytic activity of enzymes involved in nitrogen metabolism. There is also emerging evidence that they may regulate the activity of proteins required for transport of nitrogen compounds into the cell. In this review we discuss the history of the P(II) proteins, their structures and biochemistry, and their distribution and functions in prokaryotes. We survey data emerging from bacterial genome sequences and consider other likely or potential targets for control by P(II) proteins.

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