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Biochemistry. 2001 Nov 20;40(46):13876-87.

Active site mutations in CheA, the signal-transducing protein kinase of the chemotaxis system in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA.


We investigated the functional roles of putative active site residues in Escherichia coli CheA by generating nine site-directed mutants, purifying the mutant proteins, and quantifying the effects of those mutations on autokinase activity and binding affinity for ATP. We designed these mutations to alter key positions in sequence motifs conserved in the protein histidine kinase family, including the N box (H376 and N380), the G1 box (D420 and G422), the F box (F455 and F459), the G2 box (G470, G472, and G474), and the "GT block" (T499), a motif identified by comparison of CheA to members of the GHL family of ATPases. Four of the mutant CheA proteins exhibited no detectable autokinase activity (Kin(-)). Of these, three (N380D, D420N, and G422A) exhibited moderate decreases in their affinities for ATP in the presence or absence of Mg(2+). The other Kin(-) mutant (G470A/G472A/G474A) exhibited wild-type affinity for ATP in the absence of Mg(2+), but reduced affinity (relative to that of wild-type CheA) in the presence of Mg(2+). The other five mutants (Kin(+)) autophosphorylated at rates slower than that exhibited by wild-type CheA. Of these, three mutants (H376Q, D420E, and F455Y/F459Y) exhibited severely reduced k(cat) values, but preserved K(M)(ATP) and K(d)(ATP) values close to those of wild-type CheA. Two mutants (T499S and T499A) exhibited only small effects on k(cat) and K(M)(ATP). Overall, these results suggest that conserved residues in the N box, G1 box, G2 box, and F box contribute to the ATP binding site and autokinase active site in CheA, while the GT block makes little, if any, contribution. We discuss the effects of specific mutations in relation to the three-dimensional structure of CheA and to binding interactions that contribute to the stability of the complex between CheA and Mg(2+)-bound ATP in both the ground state and the transition state for the CheA autophosphorylation reaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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