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Structure. 2013 Sep 3;21(9):1590-601. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2013.06.024. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Branched signal wiring of an essential bacterial cell-cycle phosphotransfer protein.

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Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Vital to bacterial survival is the faithful propagation of cellular signals, and in Caulobacter crescentus, ChpT is an essential mediator within the cell-cycle circuit. ChpT functions as a histidine-containing phosphotransfer protein (HPt) that shuttles a phosphoryl group from the receiver domain of CckA, the upstream hybrid histidine kinase (HK), to one of two downstream response regulators (CtrA or CpdR) that controls cell-cycle progression. To understand how ChpT interacts with multiple signaling partners, we solved the crystal structure of ChpT at 2.3 Å resolution. ChpT adopts a pseudo-HK architecture but does not bind ATP. We identified two point mutation classes affecting phosphotransfer and cell morphology: one that globally impairs ChpT phosphotransfer, and a second that mediates partner selection. Importantly, a small set of conserved ChpT residues promotes signaling crosstalk and contributes to the branched signaling that activates the master regulator CtrA while inactivating the CtrA degradation signal, CpdR.

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