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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2005 Oct 10;1725(3):257-68.

Phosphorylation activity of the response regulator of the two-component signal transduction system AtoS-AtoC in E. coli.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54124, Greece.


Antizyme, long known to be a non-competitive inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, is encoded by the atoC gene in Escherichia coli. The present study reveals another role for AtoC, that of a response regulator of the AtoS-AtoC two component system regulating the expression of the atoDAEB operon upon acetoacetate induction. This operon encodes enzymes involved in short-chain fatty acid catabolism in E. coli. Evidence is presented to show that AtoS is a sensor kinase that together with AtoC constitutes a two-component signal transduction system. AtoS is a membrane protein which can autophosphorylate and then transfer that phosphoryl group to AtoC. This process can also be reproduced in vitro. AtoC contains in its amino acid sequence a conserved aspartic acid (D55), which is the putative phosphorylation site, as well as an unexpected "H box" consensus sequence (SHETRTPV), common to histidine kinases, with the histidine contained therein (H73) being a second potential target for phosphorylation. Substitution of either D55 or H73 in His10-AtoC diminished but did not abrogate AtoC phosphorylation suggesting that either both residues can be phosphorylated independently or that the phosphate group can be transferred between them. However, the D55 mutation in comparison to H73 had a more pronounced effect in vivo, on the activation of atoDAEB promoter after acetoacetate induction, although it was the presence of both mutations that rendered AtoC totally unresponsive to induction. These data provide evidence that the gene products of atoS and atoC constitute a two-component signal transduction system, with some unusual properties, involved in the regulation of the atoDAEB operon.

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