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      Two-Component Signal Transduction Pathways Regulating Growth and Cell Cycle Progression in a Bacterium: A System-Level Analysis

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          Two-component signal transduction systems, comprised of histidine kinases and their response regulator substrates, are the predominant means by which bacteria sense and respond to extracellular signals. These systems allow cells to adapt to prevailing conditions by modifying cellular physiology, including initiating programs of gene expression, catalyzing reactions, or modifying protein–protein interactions. These signaling pathways have also been demonstrated to play a role in coordinating bacterial cell cycle progression and development. Here we report a system-level investigation of two-component pathways in the model organism Caulobacter crescentus. First, by a comprehensive deletion analysis we show that at least 39 of the 106 two-component genes are required for cell cycle progression, growth, or morphogenesis. These include nine genes essential for growth or viability of the organism. We then use a systematic biochemical approach, called phosphotransfer profiling, to map the connectivity of histidine kinases and response regulators. Combining these genetic and biochemical approaches, we identify a new, highly conserved essential signaling pathway from the histidine kinase CenK to the response regulator CenR, which plays a critical role in controlling cell envelope biogenesis and structure. Depletion of either cenK or cenR leads to an unusual, severe blebbing of cell envelope material, whereas constitutive activation of the pathway compromises cell envelope integrity, resulting in cell lysis and death. We propose that the CenK–CenR pathway may be a suitable target for new antibiotic development, given previous successes in targeting the bacterial cell wall. Finally, the ability of our in vitro phosphotransfer profiling method to identify signaling pathways that operate in vivo takes advantage of an observation that histidine kinases are endowed with a global kinetic preference for their cognate response regulators. We propose that this system-wide selectivity insulates two-component pathways from one another, preventing unwanted cross-talk.


          Histidine kinases and their (sensory) response regulators are screened for in C. crescentus. Follow-up experiments determine several essential components, including one pair critical for cell envelope biogenesis and structure.

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          Most cited references 56

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          Two-component signal transduction.

          Most prokaryotic signal-transduction systems and a few eukaryotic pathways use phosphotransfer schemes involving two conserved components, a histidine protein kinase and a response regulator protein. The histidine protein kinase, which is regulated by environmental stimuli, autophosphorylates at a histidine residue, creating a high-energy phosphoryl group that is subsequently transferred to an aspartate residue in the response regulator protein. Phosphorylation induces a conformational change in the regulatory domain that results in activation of an associated domain that effects the response. The basic scheme is highly adaptable, and numerous variations have provided optimization within specific signaling systems. The domains of two-component proteins are modular and can be integrated into proteins and pathways in a variety of ways, but the core structures and activities are maintained. Thus detailed analyses of a relatively small number of representative proteins provide a foundation for understanding this large family of signaling proteins.
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            The biochemical basis of an all-or-none cell fate switch in Xenopus oocytes.

            Xenopus oocytes convert a continuously variable stimulus, the concentration of the maturation-inducing hormone progesterone, into an all-or-none biological response-oocyte maturation. Here evidence is presented that the all-or-none character of the response is generated by the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade. Analysis of individual oocytes showed that the response of MAPK to progesterone or Mos was equivalent to that of a cooperative enzyme with a Hill coefficient of at least 35, more than 10 times the Hill coefficient for the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin. The response can be accounted for by the intrinsic ultrasensitivity of the oocyte's MAPK cascade and a positive feedback loop in which the cascade is embedded. These findings provide a biochemical rationale for the all-or-none character of this cell fate switch.
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              PCR-synthesis of marker cassettes with long flanking homology regions for gene disruptions in S. cerevisiae.

               Paul Wach (1996)
              A PCR-method for fast production of disruption cassettes is introduced, that allows the addition of long flanking homology regions of several hundred base pairs (LFH-PCR) to a marker module. Such a disruption cassette was made by linking two PCR fragments produced from genomic DNA to kanMX6, a modification of dominant resistance marker making S. cerevisiae resistant to geneticin (G418). In a first step, two several hundred base pairs long DNA fragments from the 5'- and 3'- region of a S. cerevisiae gene were amplified in such a way that 26 base pairs extensions homologous to the kanMX6 marker were added to one of their end. In a second step, one strand of each of these molecules then served as a long primer in a PCR using kanMX6 as template. When such a LFH-PCR-generated disruption cassette was used instead of a PCR-made disruption cassette flanked by short homology regions, transformation efficiencies were increased by at least a factor of thirty. This modification will therefore also help to apply PCR-mediated gene manipulations to strains with decreased transformability and/or unpredictable sequence deviations.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS Biol
                PLoS Biology
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                October 2005
                27 September 2005
                : 3
                : 10
                1Bauer Center for Genomics Research, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America
                simpleLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory United States of America
                Copyright: © 2005 Skerker et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Research Article
                Genetics/Genomics/Gene Therapy

                Life sciences


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