Cell Fate Regulation Governed by a Repurposed Bacterial Histidine Kinase

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One of the simplest organisms to divide asymmetrically is the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. The DivL pseudo-histidine kinase, positioned at one cell pole, regulates cell-fate by controlling the activation of the global transcription factor CtrA via an interaction with the response regulator (RR) DivK. DivL uniquely contains a tyrosine at the histidine phosphorylation site, and can achieve these regulatory functions in vivo without kinase activity. Determination of the DivL crystal structure and biochemical analysis of wild-type and site-specific DivL mutants revealed that the DivL PAS domains regulate binding specificity for DivK∼P over DivK, which is modulated by an allosteric intramolecular interaction between adjacent domains. We discovered that DivL's catalytic domains have been repurposed as a phosphospecific RR input sensor, thereby reversing the flow of information observed in conventional histidine kinase (HK)-RR systems and coupling a complex network of signaling proteins for cell-fate regulation.




Childers, W. S., Xu, Q., Mann, T. H., Mathews, I. I., Blair, J. A., Deacon, A. M., & Shapiro, L. (2014). Cell Fate Regulation Governed by a Repurposed Bacterial Histidine Kinase. PLoS Biology, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1001979

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