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FEBS Lett. 1997 Sep 8;414(2):327-32.

Apo structure of the ligand-binding domain of aspartate receptor from Escherichia coli and its comparison with ligand-bound or pseudoligand-bound structures.

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Department of Chemistry and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The aspartate receptor from E. coli is a dimeric transmembrane-signaling protein that mediates chemotaxis behavior and is the most studied system among the chemotaxis receptors to understand the molecular mechanism for transmembrane signaling. However, there is an unresolved issue for the structural event which initiates the transmembrane signal upon binding to the ligand. Biochemical and genetic evidence implies an intrasubunit mechanism (monomeric model) whereas crystallographic evidence implies an intersubunit mechanism (dimeric model). Crystallographic evidence has been ambiguous because all the apo protein structures contained a pseudoligand sulfate, and a completely ligand-free structure has not been available thus far. Here we present the crystal structure of the ligand binding domain of the aspartate receptor free of the ligand aspartate or pseudoligand sulfate. The structural comparison of this structure with those of ligand-bound and pseudoligand-bound forms revealed that, on ligand or pseudoligand binding, the conformational change in the ligand-binding domain is relatively small, but there is a considerable rotation between two subunits, supporting the dimeric model.

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