The critical role of the conserved Thr247 residue in the functioning of the osmosensor EnvZ, a histidine kinase/phosphatase, in Escherichia coli

Rinku Dutta, Takeshi Yoshida, Masayori Inouye

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The histidine kinase/phosphatase EnvZ helps Escherichia coli adapt to osmotic shock by controlling the phosphorylation state of the transcription factor OmpR, which regulates the levels of the outer membrane porin proteins OmpF and OmpC. We examined the effects of mutating the highly conserved Thr247 residue in EnvZ. Using purified C-terminal domains of wild-type and mutant EnvZ proteins, we demonstrate that Thr247 plays a vital role in EnvZ function, variously affecting its autokinase and phosphotransferase activities, but mostly its function as a phosphatase. The cytoplasmic domain of EnvZ (EnvZc) is composed of three segments: the linker domain (residues 180-222), domain A (residues 223-289), and domain B (residues 290-450). It has been shown that the isolated domain A itself can dephosphorylate phosphorylated OmpR. Here we show that mutating Thr247 to Arg in domain A abolishes its phosphatase activity. Furthermore, using an in vivo β-galactosidase activity assay of Taz1-1 (hybrid of the aspartate receptor Tar and EnvZ) constructs of the Thr247 mutants in RU1012 cells expressing ompC-lacZ, we demonstrate that the external signal primarily down-regulates the phosphatase activity of EnvZ. Of the nine EnvZc(T247X) mutants (X = Ser, Ala, Cys, Lys, Asn, Glu, Gln, Tyr, or Arg) analyzed, only Ser functionally substituted for Thr at this position, whereas all the others displayed constitutive expression of β-galactosidase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38645-38653
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 8 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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