The KdpD sensor kinase and the KdpE response regulator control the expression of the kdpFABC operon, encoding the KdpFABC high-affinity K+ transport system of Escherichia coli. Low turgor pressure has been postulated to be the environmental stimulus to express KdpFABC. KdpD has autokinase, phosphotransferase and, like many sensor kinases, response regulator (phospho-KdpE) specific phosphatase activity. To determine which of these activities are altered in response to the environmental stimulus, we isolated and analysed six kdpD mutants that cause constitutive expression of KdpFABC. In three of the mutants, phosphatase activity was undetectable and, in two, phosphatase was reduced. Kinase activity was unaffected in four of the mutants, but elevated in one. In one mutant, a pseudorevertant of a kdpD null mutation, kinase and phosphatase were both reduced to 20% of the wild-type level. These findings suggest that initiation of signal transduction by KdpD is mediated by the inhibition of the phospho-KdpE-specific phosphatase activity of KdpD, leading to an accumulation of phospho-KdpE, which in turn activates the expression of the KdpFABC system. The data also suggest that levels of activity in vitro may differ from what occurs in vivo, because in vitro conditions cannot replicate those in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology