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EMBO J. 2013 Jul 17;32(14):2001-14. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.120. Epub 2013 May 24.

The EAL domain protein YciR acts as a trigger enzyme in a c-di-GMP signalling cascade in E. coli biofilm control.

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Institut für Biologie-Mikrobiologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


C-di-GMP-which is produced by diguanylate cyclases (DGC) and degraded by specific phosphodiesterases (PDEs)-is a ubiquitous second messenger in bacterial biofilm formation. In Escherichia coli, several DGCs (YegE, YdaM) and PDEs (YhjH, YciR) and the MerR-like transcription factor MlrA regulate the transcription of csgD, which encodes a biofilm regulator essential for producing amyloid curli fibres of the biofilm matrix. Here, we demonstrate that this system operates as a signalling cascade, in which c-di-GMP controlled by the DGC/PDE pair YegE/YhjH (module I) regulates the activity of the YdaM/YciR pair (module II). Via multiple direct interactions, the two module II proteins form a signalling complex with MlrA. YciR acts as a connector between modules I and II and functions as a trigger enzyme: its direct inhibition of the DGC YdaM is relieved when it binds and degrades c-di-GMP generated by module I. As a consequence, YdaM then generates c-di-GMP and-by direct and specific interaction-activates MlrA to stimulate csgD transcription. Trigger enzymes may represent a general principle in local c-di-GMP signalling.

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