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Dihydroxyacetone (Dha) kinases are homologous proteins that use different phosphoryl donors, a multiphosphoryl protein of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent carbohydrate:phosphotransferase system in bacteria, ATP in animals, plants, and some bacteria. The Dha kinase of Escherichia coli consists of three subunits, DhaK and DhaL, which are colinear to the ATP-dependent Dha kinases of eukaryotes, and the multiphosphoryl protein DhaM. Here we show the crystal structure of the DhaK subunit in complex with Dha at 1.75 A resolution. DhaK is a homodimer with a fold consisting of two six-stranded mixed beta-sheets surrounded by nine alpha-helices and a beta-ribbon covering the exposed edge strand of one sheet. The core of the N-terminal domain has an alpha/beta fold common to subunits of carbohydrate transporters and transcription regulators of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent carbohydrate:phosphotransferase system. The core of the C-terminal domain has a fold similar to the C-terminal domain of the cell-division protein FtsZ. A molecule of Dha is covalently bound in hemiaminal linkage to the N epsilon 2 of His-230. The hemiaminal does not participate in covalent catalysis but is the chemical basis for discrimination between short-chain carbonyl compounds and polyols. Paralogs of Dha kinases occur in association with transcription regulators of the TetR/QacR and the SorC families, pointing to their biological role as sensors in signaling.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





8188 - 8192


Amino Acid Sequence, Bacteria, Bacterial Proteins, Crystallography, X-Ray, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Proteins, Models, Molecular, Molecular Sequence Data, Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System, Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor), Protein Binding, Protein Conformation, Protein Folding, Protein Subunits, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid