skip to main content

Title: Distinct Chemotaxis Protein Paralogs Assemble into Chemoreceptor Signaling Arrays To Coordinate Signaling Output
ABSTRACT Most chemotactic motile bacteria possess multiple chemotaxis signaling systems, the functions of which are not well characterized. Chemotaxis signaling is initiated by chemoreceptors that assemble as large arrays, together with chemotaxis coupling proteins (CheW) and histidine kinase proteins (CheA), which form a baseplate with the cytoplasmic tips of receptors. These cell pole-localized arrays mediate sensing, signaling, and signal amplification during chemotaxis responses. Membrane-bound chemoreceptors with different cytoplasmic domain lengths segregate into distinct arrays. Here, we show that a bacterium, Azospirillum brasilense , which utilizes two chemotaxis signaling systems controlling distinct motility parameters, coordinates its chemotactic responses through the production of two separate membrane-bound chemoreceptor arrays by mixing paralogs within chemotaxis baseplates. The polar localization of chemoreceptors of different length classes is maintained in strains that had baseplate signaling proteins from either chemotaxis system but was lost when both systems were deleted. Chemotaxis proteins (CheA and CheW) from each of the chemotaxis signaling systems (Che1 and Che4) could physically interact with one another, and chemoreceptors from both classes present in A. brasilense could interact with Che1 and Che4 proteins. The assembly of paralogs from distinct chemotaxis pathways into baseplates provides a straightforward mechanism for coordinating signaling from distinct pathways, which more » we predict is not unique to this system given the propensity of chemotaxis systems for horizontal gene transfer. IMPORTANCE The assembly of chemotaxis receptors and signaling proteins into polar arrays is universal in motile chemotactic bacteria. Comparative genome analyses indicate that most motile bacteria possess multiple chemotaxis signaling systems, and experimental evidence suggests that signaling from distinct chemotaxis systems is integrated. Here, we identify one such mechanism. We show that paralogs from two chemotaxis systems assemble together into chemoreceptor arrays, forming baseplates comprised of proteins from both chemotaxis systems. These mixed arrays provide a straightforward mechanism for signal integration and coordinated response output from distinct chemotaxis systems. Given that most chemotactic bacteria encode multiple chemotaxis systems and the propensity for these systems to be laterally transferred, this mechanism may be common to ensure chemotaxis signal integration occurs. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1715185
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10183039
Journal Name:
mBio
Volume:
10
Issue:
5
ISSN:
2150-7511
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Petersen, Jillian Michelle (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bacterial chemotaxis affords motile bacteria the ability to navigate the environment to locate niches for growth and survival. At the molecular level, chemotaxis depends on chemoreceptor signaling arrays that interact with cytoplasmic proteins to control the direction of movement. In Azospirillum brasilense , chemotaxis is mediated by two distinct chemotaxis pathways: Che1 and Che4. Both Che1 and Che4 are critical in the A. brasilense free-living and plant-associated lifestyles. Here, we use whole-cell proteomics and metabolomics to characterize the role of chemotaxis in A. brasilense physiology. We found that mutants lacking CheA1 or CheA4 or both are affected in nonchemotaxismore »functions, including major changes in transcription, signaling transport, and cell metabolism. We identify specific effects of CheA1 and CheA4 on nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, that may depend, at least, on the transcriptional control of rpoN , which encodes RpoN, a global regulator of metabolism, including nitrogen. Consistent with proteomics, the abundance of several nitrogenous compounds (purines, pyrimidines, and amino acids) changed in the metabolomes of the chemotaxis mutants relative to the parental strain. Further, we uncover novel, and yet uncharacterized, layers of transcriptional and posttranscriptional control of nitrogen metabolism regulators. Together, our data reveal roles for CheA1 and CheA4 in linking chemotaxis and nitrogen metabolism, likely through control of global regulatory networks. IMPORTANCE Bacterial chemotaxis is widespread in bacteria, increasing competitiveness in diverse environments and mediating associations with eukaryotic hosts ranging from commensal to beneficial and pathogenic. In most bacteria, chemotaxis signaling is tightly linked to energy metabolism, with this coupling occurring through the sensory input of several energy-sensing chemoreceptors. Here, we show that in A. brasilense the chemotaxis proteins have key roles in modulating nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, through novel and yet unknown regulations. These results are significant given that A. brasilense is a model bacterium for plant growth promotion and free-living nitrogen fixation and is used as a bio-inoculant for cereal crops. Chemotaxis signaling in A. brasilense thus links locomotor behaviors to nitrogen metabolism, allowing cells to continuously and reciprocally adjust metabolism and chemotaxis signaling as they navigate gradients.« less
  2. ABSTRACT Tsr, the serine chemoreceptor in Escherichia coli , transduces signals from a periplasmic ligand-binding site to its cytoplasmic tip, where it controls the activity of the CheA kinase. To function, Tsr forms trimers of homodimers (TODs), which associate in vivo with the CheA kinase and CheW coupling protein. Together, these proteins assemble into extended hexagonal arrays. Here, we use cryo-electron tomography and molecular dynamics simulation to study Tsr in the context of a near-native array, characterizing its signaling-related conformational changes at both the individual dimer and the trimer level. In particular, we show that individual Tsr dimers within amore »trimer exhibit asymmetric flexibilities that are a function of the signaling state, highlighting the effect of their different protein interactions at the receptor tips. We further reveal that the dimer compactness of the Tsr trimer changes between signaling states, transitioning at the glycine hinge from a compact conformation in the kinase-OFF state to an expanded conformation in the kinase-ON state. Hence, our results support a crucial role for the glycine hinge: to allow the receptor flexibility necessary to achieve different signaling states while also maintaining structural constraints imposed by the membrane and extended array architecture. IMPORTANCE In Escherichia coli , membrane-bound chemoreceptors, the histidine kinase CheA, and coupling protein CheW form highly ordered chemosensory arrays. In core signaling complexes, chemoreceptor trimers of dimers undergo conformational changes, induced by ligand binding and sensory adaptation, which regulate kinase activation. Here, we characterize by cryo-electron tomography the kinase-ON and kinase-OFF conformations of the E. coli serine receptor in its native array context. We found distinctive structural differences between the members of a receptor trimer, which contact different partners in the signaling unit, and structural differences between the ON and OFF signaling complexes. Our results provide new insights into the signaling mechanism of chemoreceptor arrays and suggest an important functional role for a previously postulated flexible region and glycine hinge in the receptor molecule.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Soil bacteria adapt to diverse and rapidly changing environmental conditions by sensing and responding to environmental cues using a variety of sensory systems. Two-component systems are a widespread type of signal transduction system present in all three domains of life and typically are comprised of a sensor kinase and a response regulator. Many two-component systems function by regulating gene expression in response to environmental stimuli. The bacterial chemotaxis system is a modified two-component system with additional protein components and a response that, rather than regulating gene expression, involves behavioral adaptation and results in net movement toward or away frommore »a chemical stimulus. Soil bacteria generally have 20 to 40 or more chemoreceptors encoded in their genomes. To simplify the identification of chemoeffectors (ligands) sensed by bacterial chemoreceptors, we constructed hybrid sensor proteins by fusing the sensor domains of Pseudomonas putida chemoreceptors to the signaling domains of the Escherichia coli NarX/NarQ nitrate sensors. Responses to potential attractants were monitored by β-galactosidase assays using an E. coli reporter strain in which the nitrate-responsive narG promoter was fused to lacZ . Hybrid receptors constructed from PcaY, McfR, and NahY, which are chemoreceptors for aromatic acids, tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates, and naphthalene, respectively, were sensitive and specific for detecting known attractants, and the β-galactosidase activities measured in E. coli correlated well with results of chemotaxis assays in the native P. putida strain. In addition, a screen of the hybrid receptors successfully identified new ligands for chemoreceptor proteins and resulted in the identification of six receptors that detect propionate. IMPORTANCE Relatively few of the thousands of chemoreceptors encoded in bacterial genomes have been functionally characterized. More importantly, although methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins, the major type of chemoreceptors present in bacteria, are easily identified bioinformatically, it is not currently possible to predict what chemicals will bind to a particular chemoreceptor. Chemotaxis is known to play roles in biodegradation as well as in host-pathogen and host-symbiont interactions, but many studies are currently limited by the inability to identify relevant chemoreceptor ligands. The use of hybrid receptors and this simple E. coli reporter system allowed rapid and sensitive screening for potential chemoeffectors. The fusion site chosen for this study resulted in a high percentage of functional hybrids, indicating that it could be used to broadly test chemoreceptor responses from phylogenetically diverse samples. Considering the wide range of chemical attractants detected by soil bacteria, hybrid receptors may also be useful as sensitive biosensors.« less
  4. ABSTRACT Plant roots shape the rhizosphere community by secreting compounds that recruit diverse bacteria. Colonization of various plant roots by the motile alphaproteobacterium Azospirillum brasilens e causes increased plant growth, root volume, and crop yield. Bacterial chemotaxis in this and other motile soil bacteria is critical for competitive colonization of the root surfaces. The role of chemotaxis in root surface colonization has previously been established by endpoint analyses of bacterial colonization levels detected a few hours to days after inoculation. More recently, microfluidic devices have been used to study plant-microbe interactions, but these devices are size limited. Here, we usemore »a novel slide-in chamber that allows real-time monitoring of plant-microbe interactions using agriculturally relevant seedlings to characterize how bacterial chemotaxis mediates plant root surface colonization during the association of A. brasilens e with Triticum aestivum (wheat) and Medicago sativa (alfalfa) seedlings. We track A. brasilense accumulation in the rhizosphere and on the root surfaces of wheat and alfalfa. A. brasilense motile cells display distinct chemotaxis behaviors in different regions of the roots, including attractant and repellent responses that ultimately drive surface colonization patterns. We also combine these observations with real-time analyses of behaviors of wild-type and mutant strains to link chemotaxis responses to distinct chemicals identified in root exudates to specific chemoreceptors that together explain the chemotactic response of motile cells in different regions of the roots. Furthermore, the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP modulates these chemotaxis responses. Together, these findings illustrate dynamic bacterial chemotaxis responses to rhizosphere gradients that guide root surface colonization. IMPORTANCE Plant root exudates play critical roles in shaping rhizosphere microbial communities, and the ability of motile bacteria to respond to these gradients mediates competitive colonization of root surfaces. Root exudates are complex chemical mixtures that are spatially and temporally dynamic. Identifying the exact chemical(s) that mediates the recruitment of soil bacteria to specific regions of the roots is thus challenging. Here, we connect patterns of bacterial chemotaxis responses and sensing by chemoreceptors to chemicals found in root exudate gradients and identify key chemical signals that shape root surface colonization in different plants and regions of the roots.« less
  5. Becker, Anke (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Chemoreceptors enable the legume symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti to detect and respond to specific chemicals released from their host plant alfalfa, which allows the establishment of a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis. The periplasmic region (PR) of transmembrane chemoreceptors act as the sensory input module for chemotaxis systems via binding of specific ligands, either directly or indirectly. S. meliloti has six transmembrane and two cytosolic chemoreceptors. However, the function of only three of the transmembrane receptors have been characterized so far, with McpU, McpV, and McpX serving as general amino acid, short-chain carboxylate, and quaternary ammonium compound sensors, respectively. In the present study,more »we analyzed the S. meliloti chemoreceptor McpT. High-throughput differential scanning fluorimetry assays, using Biolog phenotype microarray plates, identified 15 potential ligands for McpT PR , with the majority classified as mono-, di-, and tricarboxylates. S. meliloti exhibited positive chemotaxis toward seven selected carboxylates, namely, α-ketobutyrate, citrate, glyoxylate, malate, malonate, oxalate, and succinate. These carboxylates were detected in seed exudates of the alfalfa host. Deletion of mcpT resulted in a significant decrease of chemotaxis to all carboxylates except for citrate. Isothermal titration calorimetry revealed that McpT PR bound preferentially to the monocarboxylate glyoxylate and with lower affinity to the dicarboxylates malate, malonate, and oxalate. However, no direct binding was detected for the remaining three carboxylates that elicited an McpT-dependent chemotaxis response. Taken together, these results demonstrate that McpT is a broad-range carboxylate chemoreceptor that mediates chemotactic response via direct ligand binding and an indirect mechanism that needs to be identified. IMPORTANCE Nitrate pollution is one of the most widespread and challenging environmental problems that is mainly caused by the agricultural overapplication of nitrogen fertilizers. Biological nitrogen fixation by the endosymbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti enhances the growth of its host Medicago sativa (alfalfa), which also efficiently supplies the soil with nitrogen. Establishment of the S. meliloti - alfalfa symbiosis relies on the early exchange and recognition of chemical signals. The present study contributes to the disclosure of this complex molecular dialogue by investigating the underlying mechanisms of carboxylate sensing in S. meliloti . Understanding individual steps that govern the S. meliloti -alfalfa molecular cross talk helps in the development of efficient, commercial bacterial inoculants that promote the growth of alfalfa, which is the most cultivated forage legume in the world, and improves soil fertility.« less