Modeling chemotaxis reveals the role of reversed phosphotransfer and a bi-functional kinase-phosphatase
Tindall, M. J., Porter, S. L., Maini, P. K. and Armitage, J. P. (2010) Modeling chemotaxis reveals the role of reversed phosphotransfer and a bi-functional kinase-phosphatase. PLoS Computational Biology, 6 (8). e1000896. ISSN 1553-734X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000896
Understanding how multiple signals are integrated in living cells to produce a balanced response is a major challenge in biology. Two-component signal transduction pathways, such as bacterial chemotaxis, comprise histidine protein kinases (HPKs) and response regulators (RRs). These are used to sense and respond to changes in the environment. Rhodobacter sphaeroides has a complex chemosensory network with two signaling clusters, each containing a HPK, CheA. Here we demonstrate, using a mathematical model, how the outputs of the two signaling clusters may be integrated. We use our mathematical model supported by experimental data to predict that: (1) the main RR controlling flagellar rotation, CheY6, aided by its specific phosphatase, the bifunctional kinase CheA3, acts as a phosphate sink for the other RRs; and (2) a phosphorelay pathway involving CheB2 connects the cytoplasmic cluster kinase CheA3 with the polar localised kinase CheA2, and allows CheA3-P to phosphorylate non-cognate chemotaxis RRs. These two mechanisms enable the bifunctional kinase/phosphatase activity of CheA3 to integrate and tune the sensory output of each signaling cluster to produce a balanced response. The signal integration mechanisms identified here may be widely used by other bacteria, since like R. sphaeroides, over 50% of chemotactic bacteria have multiple cheA homologues and need to integrate signals from different sources.