Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Transmembrane signaling in the sensor kinase DcuS of Escherichia coli: A long-range piston-type displacement of transmembrane helix 2.

PMID 26283365


The C4-dicarboxylate sensor kinase DcuS is membrane integral because of the transmembrane (TM) helices TM1 and TM2. Fumarate-induced movement of the helices was probed in vivo by Cys accessibility scanning at the membrane-water interfaces after activation of DcuS by fumarate at the periplasmic binding site. TM1 was inserted with amino acid residues 21-41 in the membrane in both the fumarate-activated (ON) and inactive (OFF) states. In contrast, TM2 was inserted with residues 181-201 in the OFF state and residues 185-205 in the ON state. Replacement of Trp 185 by an Arg residue caused displacement of TM2 toward the outside of the membrane and a concomitant induction of the ON state. Results from Cys cross-linking of TM2/TM2' in the DcuS homodimer excluded rotation; thus, data from accessibility changes of TM2 upon activation, either by ligand binding or by mutation of TM2, and cross-linking of TM2 and the connected region in the periplasm suggest a piston-type shift of TM2 by four residues to the periplasm upon activation (or fumarate binding). This mode of function is supported by the suggestion from energetic calculations of two preferred positions for TM2 insertion in the membrane. The shift of TM2 by four residues (or 4-6 Å) toward the periplasm upon activation is complementary to the periplasmic displacement of 3-4 Å of the C-terminal part of the periplasmic ligand-binding domain upon ligand occupancy in the citrate-binding domain in the homologous CitA sensor kinase.

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