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Biochemistry. 1997 Feb 25;36(8):2030-40.

Kinetic characterization of phosphotransfer between CheA and CheY in the bacterial chemotaxis signal transduction pathway.

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Department of Microbiology, Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.


Phosphorylation of the CheY protein is a crucial step in the chemotaxis signal transduction pathway of Escherichia coli. CheY becomes phosphorylated by acquiring a phosphoryl group from CheA, an autophosphorylating protein kinase. In this study, we utilized a rapid-quench instrument to investigate the kinetics of phosphotransfer in single-turnover experiments. Our results are consistent with a three-step mechanism for the CheA-to-CheY phosphotransfer reaction: (i) reversible binding of CheY to P-CheA; (ii) rapid, reversible phosphotransfer to CheY; (iii) reversible dissociation of the resulting CheA x CheY-P complex. Investigation of the effect of CheY concentration on the observed rate of phosphotransfer demonstrated saturation kinetics; the extrapolated limiting rate constant for phosphotransfer was 650 +/- 200 s(-1), while the Km value indicated from this work was 6.5 +/- 2 microM. We demonstrated that the CheA-CheY phosphotransfer reaction was reversible by observing partial transfer of [32P]phosphate from CheY-P to CheA and by observing the effect of high concentrations of unphosphorylated CheA on the equilibrium: P-CheA + CheY <--> CheA + CheY-P. We found that the rate of phosphotransfer from P-CheA to CheY can be inhibited by unphosphorylated CheA as well as by a fragment of CheA (CheA124-257) that contains the CheY binding site; these results suggest that the unphosphorylated form of CheA can effectively compete with P-CheA for available CheY (Kd approximately 1.5 +/- 0.6 microM for the CheY x CheA124-257 complex and for the CheY x CheA complex).

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