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New Biol. 1990 Jan;2(1):5-9.

Signal transduction in bacteria: kinases that control gene expression.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Princeton University, NJ 08544-1014.


A new paradigm, termed two-component regulatory systems, is emerging from the study of signal transduction in bacteria. A simple example of such a system is provided by the Omp regulon of Escherichia coli. This regulon, which controls the expression of the major outer membrane porin proteins OmpF and OmpC in response to changes in osmolarity, includes the inner membrane protein EnvZ (a receptor kinase) and the DNA-binding protein OmpR (a transcriptional activator). Although we do not know what "ligand" is sensed in the Omp system, we can trace the signal transduction pathway from the receptor at the cell surface directly to regulatory sequences within the DNA. Perhaps signal transduction in bacteria can serve as a simple archetype for understanding certain functions performed by receptor kinases and phosphorylated DNA-binding proteins in higher organisms.

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