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Mol Microbiol. 2014 Oct;94(2):231-41. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12747. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Agents of change - concepts in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Ser/Thr/Tyr phosphosignalling.

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Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, WA, 98109, USA; Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA.


The flow of information from the outside to the inside of bacterial cells is largely directed by protein kinases. In addition to histidine/aspartate phosphorelays of two-component response regulators, recent work in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) reinforces the idea that phosphorylation on serine (Ser), threonine (Thr) and tyrosine (Tyr) is central to bacterial physiology and pathogenesis, and that the corresponding phosphosystems are highly similar to those in eukaryotes. In this way, eukaryotes are a useful guide to understanding Ser/Thr/Tyr phosphorylation (O-phosphorylation) in prokaryotes such as Mtb. However, as novel functions and components of bacterial O-phosphorylation are identified, distinct differences between pro- and eukaryotic phosphosignalling systems become apparent. The emerging picture of O-phosphorylation in Mtb is complicated, goes beyond the eukaryotic paradigms, and shows the limitations of viewing bacterial phosphosignalling within the confines of the 'eukaryotic-like' model. Here, we summarize recent findings about Ser/Thr and the recently discovered Tyr phosphorylation pathways in Mtb, highlight the similarities and differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic O-phosphorylation, and pose additional questions about signalling components, pathway organization, and ultimately, the cellular roles of O-phosphorylation in Mtb physiology and pathogenesis.

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