Site-specific methylation in Bacillus subtilis chemotaxis: Effect of covalent modifications to the chemotaxis receptor McpB

George D. Glekas, Joseph R. Cates, Theodore M. Cohen, Christopher V. Rao, George W. Ordal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Bacillus subtilis chemotaxis pathway employs a receptor methylation system that functions differently from the one in the canonical Escherichia coli pathway. Previously, we hypothesized that B. subtilis employs a site-specific methylation system for adaptation where methyl groups are added and removed at different sites. This study investigated how covalent modifications to the adaptation region of the chemotaxis receptor McpB altered its apparent affinity for its cognate ligand, asparagine, and also its ability to activate the CheA kinase. This receptor has three closely spaced adaptation sites located at residues Gln371, Glu630 and Glu637. We found that amidation, a putative methylation mimic, of site 371 increased the receptor's apparent affinity for asparagine and its ability to activate the CheA kinase. Conversely, amidation of sites 630 and 637 reduced the receptor's ability to activate the kinase but did not affect the apparent affinity for asparagine, suggesting that activity and sensitivity are independently controlled in B. subtilis. We also examined how electrostatic interactions may underlie this behaviour, using homology models. These findings further our understanding of the site-specific methylation system in B. subtilis by demonstrating how the modification of specific sites can have varying effects on receptor function

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-65
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobiology
Volume157
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology

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