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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 30;278(22):19939-46. Epub 2003 Mar 10.

A two-component system mediates developmental regulation of biosynthesis of a heterocyst polysaccharide.

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  • 1MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, USA.


Some cyanobacteria couple oxygenic photosynthesis in vegetative cells with O2-sensitive N2 fixation in differentiated cells called heterocysts. Heterocyst differentiation involves extensive biochemical and structural changes that collectively permit heterocysts to assimilate N2 aerobically and supply the products of N2 fixation to vegetative cells. HepK and DevR are required for the development of functional heterocysts in Anabaena and Nostoc, respectively. We show that HepK is an autokinase and that Anabaena DevRA is its cognate response regulator, together comprising part or all of a two-component system that mediates developmental regulation of biosynthesis of a heterocyst envelope polysaccharide. Recombinant N-hexahistidine-tagged HepK (H6HepK), the cytoplasmic portion H6'HepK of H6HepK, H6DevR, and H6DevRA were overexpressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. H6'HepK, but not H6HepK, autophosphorylates with [gamma-32P]ATP. ADP, specifically, elicits dephosphorylation of phosphorylated H6'HepK. The phosphoryl group of H6'HepK is transferred rapidly and efficiently to both H6DevR and H6DevRA but not to His-tagged OmpR, whose cognate sensor kinase is EnvZ. Sequence comparisons, the results of site-specific mutagenesis, and tests of chemical stability support identification of HepK-His348 and DevR-Asp53 as the phosphorylated residues. The mutation HepK-H348A abolishes both in vitro autokinase activity and in vivo functionality of HepK. Heterocysts of both hepK Anabaena and devRA Anabaena lack an envelope polysaccharide layer and are nonfunctional. Consistent with the normal site of deposition of that polysaccharide, a hepK::gfp transcriptional fusion is expressed principally in proheterocysts. HepK/DevRA is the first two-component system identified that regulates the biosynthesis of a polysaccharide as part of a patterned differentiation process.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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