Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Microbiol. 1996 Jun;20(6):1297-306.

An unorthodox sensor protein (TorS) mediates the induction of the tor structural genes in response to trimethylamine N-oxide in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Laboratoire de Chimie Bactérienne, Institut de Biologie Structurale et Microbiologie, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Marseille, France.


We isolated and characterized three spontaneous mutations leading to trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO)-independent expression of the tor operon encoding the TMAO-reductase anaerobic respiratory system in Escherichia coli. The mutations lie in a new for regulatory gene, the torS gene, which probably encodes a sensor protein of a two-component regulatory system. One mutation, which leads to full TMAO-constitutive expression, is a 3-amino-acid deletion within the potential N-terminal periplasmic region, suggesting that this region contains the TMAO-detector site. For the other two mutations, a further induction of the tor operon is observed when TMAO is added. Both are single substitutions and affect the linker region located between the detector and the conserved transmitter domains. Thus, as proposed for other sensors, the TorS linker region might play an essential role in propagating conformational changes between the detector and the cytoplasmic signalling regions. The TorS histidine kinase is an unorthodox sensor that contains a receiver and a C-terminal alternative transmitter domain in addition to the domains found in most sensors. Previously, we showed that TMAO induction of the for operon requires the TorR response regulator and the TorT periplasmic protein. Additional genetic data confirm that torS encodes the sensor partner of TorR and TorT. First, insertion within torS abolishes tor operon expression whatever the growth conditions. Second, overexpressed TorR bypasses the requirement for torS, whereas the torT gene product is dispensable for tor operon expression in a torS constitutive mutant. This supports a signal-transduction cascade from TorT to TorR via TorS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center