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J Mol Biol. 1997 Oct 17;273(1):299-316.

Structural and functional analyses of activating amino acid substitutions in the receiver domain of NtrC: evidence for an activating surface.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The bacterial enhancer-binding protein NtrC activates transcription when phosphorylated on aspartate 54 in its amino (N)-terminal regulatory domain or when altered by constitutively activating amino acid substitutions. The N-terminal domain of NtrC, which acts positively on the remainder of the protein, is homologous to a large family of signal transduction domains called receiver domains. Phosphorylation of an aspartate residue in a receiver domain modulates the function of a downstream target, but the accompanying structural changes are not clear. In the present work we examine structural and functional differences between the wild-type receiver domain of NtrC and mutant forms carrying constitutively activating substitutions. Combinations of such substitutions resulted in both increased structural changes in the N-terminal domain, monitored by NMR chemical shift differences, and increased transcriptional activation by the full-length protein. Structural changes caused by substitutions outside the active site (D86N and A89T) were not only local but extended over a substantial portion of the N-terminal domain including the region from alpha-helix 3 to beta-strand 5 ("3445 face") and propagating to the active site. Interestingly, the activating substitution of glutamate for aspartate at the site of phosphorylation (D54E) also triggered structural changes in the 3445 face. Thus, the active site and the 3445 face appear to interact. Implications with respect to how phosphorylation may affect the structure of receiver domains and how structural changes may be communicated to the remainder of NtrC are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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