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Mol Gen Genet. 1981;183(1):163-70.

The phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent carbohydrate: phosphotransferase system enzymes II as chemoreceptors in chemotaxis of Escherichia coli K 12.


In Escherichia coli K12, eight substrate-specific, membrane-bound enzymes II of the PEP-dependent carbohydrate: phosphotransferase system (PTS), specific for hexoses, hexosamines and hexitols, have been characterised in a series of isogenic and constitutive strains. In such mutants, lacking all but one enzyme II, the transport and vectorial phosphorylation activities as well as the chemotactical response in capillary tube assays have been compared. According to the data obtained, all enzymes II not only are directly involved in the transport and vectorial phosphorylation of their substrates, but they have also a primary role as the chemoreceptors for these substrates: (1) Metabolism of the attractant beyond the phosphorylation step is not a pre-requisite to eliciting positive chemotaxis. (2) Mutants, having only one enzyme II react in the capillary tube assay only to substrates of this enzyme II, but not to substrates of the missing enzymes II. This holds for enzymes II consisting of one membrane-bound protein as well as for systems containing a soluble factor III (FIII). (3) The substrate specificities or affinities, whether tested by transport and chemotaxis assays in vivo or by phosphorylation tests in vitro, are in correspondence. (4) The activities of enzymes II, regulated in a complex way at the level of enzyme synthesis and activity and tested as above, are also in agreement, (5) Mutants lacking the soluble proteins enzyme I or HPr of the PTS no longer respond chemotactically to any substrate taken up and phosphorylated by enzymes II. It is concluded that in PTS enzymes II some functions required for transport and chemotaxis are identical. It is suggested furthermore, that the alternation of intrinsic membrane-bound proteins between a phosphorylated and a dephosphorylated state, rather than binding of the substrate to the enzyme II, is the decisive stimulus in the chemotaxis toward carbohydrates taken up by these transport systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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