Mechanism of Signalling and Adaptation through the Rhodobacter sphaeroides Cytoplasmic Chemoreceptor Cluster.
Beyer JAD., Szöllössi A., Byles E., Fischer R., Armitage JP.
Rhodobacter sphaeroides has two chemotaxis clusters, an Escherichia coli-like cluster with membrane-spanning chemoreceptors and a less-understood cytoplasmic cluster. The cytoplasmic CheA is split into CheA4, a kinase, and CheA3, a His-domain phosphorylated by CheA4 and a phosphatase domain, which together phosphorylate and dephosphorylate motor-stopping CheY6. In bacterial two-hybrid analysis, one major cytoplasmic chemoreceptor, TlpT, interacted with CheA4, while the other, TlpC, interacted with CheA3. Both clusters have associated adaptation proteins. Deleting their methyltransferases and methylesterases singly and together removed chemotaxis, but with opposite effects. The cytoplasmic cluster signal overrode the membrane cluster signal. Methylation and demethylation of specific chemoreceptor glutamates controls adaptation. Tandem mass spectroscopy and bioinformatics identified four putative sites on TlpT, three glutamates and a glutamine. Mutating each glutamate to alanine resulted in smooth swimming and loss of chemotaxis, unlike similar mutations in E. coli chemoreceptors. Cells with two mutated glutamates were more stoppy than wild-type and responded and adapted to attractant addition, not removal. Mutating all four sites amplified the effect. Cells were non-motile, began smooth swimming on attractant addition, and rapidly adapted back to non-motile before attractant removal. We propose that TlpT responds and adapts to the cell's metabolic state, generating the steady-state concentration of motor-stopping CheY6~P. Membrane-cluster signalling produces a pulse of CheY3/CheY4~P that displaces CheY6~P and allows flagellar rotation and smooth swimming before both clusters adapt.