Send to

Choose Destination
J Mol Biol. 2001 Mar 16;307(1):119-35.

Determinants of chemotactic signal amplification in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Laboratory of Cellular Bioenergetics, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461 USA.


A well-characterized protein phosphorelay mediates Escherichia coli chemotaxis towards the amino acid attractant aspartate. The protein CheY shuttles between flagellar motors and methyl-accepting chemoreceptor (MCP) complexes containing the linker CheW and the kinase CheA. CheA-CheY phosphotransfer generates phospho-CheY, CheY-P. Aspartate triggers smooth swim responses by inactivation of the CheA bound to the target MCP, Tar; but this mechanism alone cannot explain the observed response sensitivity. Here, we used behavioral analysis of mutants deleted for CheZ, a catalyst of CheY-P dephosphorylation, or the methyltransferase CheR and/or the methylesterase CheB to examine the roles of accelerated CheY-P dephosphorylation and MCP methylation in enhancement of the chemotactic response. The extreme motile bias of the mutants was adjusted towards wild-type values, while preserving much of the aspartate response sensitivity by expressing fragments of the MCP, Tsr, that either activate or inhibit CheA. We then measured responses to small jumps of aspartate, generated by flash photolysis of photo-labile precursors. The stimulus-response relation for Delta cheZ mutants overlapped that for the host strains. Delta cheZ excitation response times increased with stimulus size consistent with formation of an occluded CheA state. Thus, neither CheZ-dependent or independent increases in CheY-P dephosphorylation contribute to the excitation response. In Delta cheB Delta cheR or Delta cheR mutants, the dose for a half-maximal response, [Asp](50), was ca 10 microM; but was elevated to 100 microM in Delta cheB mutants. In addition, the stimulus-response relation for these mutants was linear, consistent with stoichiometric inactivation, in contrast to the non-linear relation for wild-type E. coli. These data suggest that response sensitivity is controlled by differential binding of CheR and/or CheB to distinct MCP signaling conformations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center