Probing the Roles of the Two Different Dimers Mediated by the Receiver Domain of the Response Regulator PhoB

Timothy R. Mack, Rong Gao, Ann Stock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Structural analysis of the Escherichia coli response regulator transcription factor PhoB indicates that the protein dimerizes in two different orientations that are both mediated by the receiver domain. The two dimers exhibit 2-fold rotational symmetry: one involves the α4-β5-α5 surface and the other involves the α1/α5 surface. The α4-β5-α5 dimer is observed when the protein is crystallized in the presence of the phosphoryl analog BeF3-, while the α1/α5 dimer is observed in its absence. From these studies, a model of the inactive and active states of PhoB has been proposed that involves the formation of two distinct dimers. In order to gain further insight into the roles of these dimers, we have engineered a series of mutations in PhoB intended to perturb each of them selectively. Our results indicate that perturbation of the α4-β5-α5 surface disrupts phosphorylation-dependent dimerization and DNA binding as well as PhoB-mediated transcriptional activation of phoA, while perturbations to the α1/α5 surface do not. Furthermore, experiments with a GCN4 leucine zipper/PhoB chimera protein indicate that PhoB is activated through an intermolecular mechanism. Together, these results support a model of activation of PhoB in which phosphorylation promotes dimerization via the α4-β5-α5 face, which enhances DNA binding and thus the ability of PhoB to regulate transcription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-364
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 5 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


  • activation
  • alternate dimers
  • conformational equilibrium
  • transcription factor
  • two-component signal transduction

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