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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Apr;40(2):440-50.

A novel feature of the multistep phosphorelay in Escherichia coli: a revised model of the RcsC --> YojN --> RcsB signalling pathway implicated in capsular synthesis and swarming behaviour.

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Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, School of Agriculture, Nagoya University, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan.


In this study, we re-investigated the previously characterized RcsC (sensor His-kinase) --> RcsB (response regulator) phosphorelay system that is involved in the regulation of capsular polysaccharide synthesis in Escherichia coli. The previously proposed model hypothesized the occurrence of a direct phosphotransfer from RcsC to RcsB in response to an unknown external stimulus. As judged from the current general view as to the His --> Asp phosphorelay, this RcsC --> RcsB framework is somewhat puzzling, because RcsC appears to contain both a His-kinase domain and a receiver domain, but not a histidine (His)-containing phosphotransmitter domain (e.g. HPt domain). We thus suspected that an as yet unknown mechanism might be underlying in this particular His --> Asp phosphorelay system. Here, we provide several lines of in vivo and in vitro evidence that a novel and unique His-containing phosphotransmitter (named YojN) is essential for this signalling system. A revised model is proposed in which the multistep RcsC --> YojN --> RcsB phosphorelay is implicated. It was also demonstrated that this complex signalling system is somehow involved in the modulation of a characteristic behaviour of E. coli cells during colony formation on the surface of agar plates, namely swarming.

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