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  • Multamäki, Elina; Nanekar, Rahul; Morozov, Dmitry; Lievonen, Topias; Golonka, David; Wahlgren, Weixiao Yuan; Stucki-Buchli, Brigitte; Rossi, Jari; Hytönen, Vesa P.; Westenhoff, Sebastian; Ihalainen, Janne A.; Möglich, Andreas; Takala, Heikki (2021)
    Bacterial phytochrome photoreceptors usually belong to two-component signaling systems which transmit environmental stimuli to a response regulator through a histidine kinase domain. Phytochromes switch between red light-absorbing and far-red light-absorbing states. Despite exhibiting extensive structural responses during this transition, the model bacteriophytochrome from Deinococcus radiodurans (DrBphP) lacks detectable kinase activity. Here, we resolve this long-standing conundrum by comparatively analyzing the interactions and output activities of DrBphP and a bacteriophytochrome from Agrobacterium fabrum (Agp1). Whereas Agp1 acts as a conventional histidine kinase, we identify DrBphP as a light-sensitive phosphatase. While Agp1 binds its cognate response regulator only transiently, DrBphP does so strongly, which is rationalized at the structural level. Our data pinpoint two key residues affecting the balance between kinase and phosphatase activities, which immediately bears on photoreception and two-component signaling. The opposing output activities in two highly similar bacteriophytochromes suggest the use of light-controllable histidine kinases and phosphatases for optogenetics. The bacteriophytochrome DrBphP from Deinococcus radiodurans shows high sequence homology to the histidine kinase Agp1 from Agrobacterium fabrum but lacks kinase activity. Here, the authors structurally and biochemically analyse DrBphP and Agp1, showing that DrBphP is a light-activatable phosphatase.
  • Juntheikki-Palovaara, Inka; Tahtiharju, Sari; Lan, Tianying; Broholm, Suvi K.; Rijpkema, Anneke S.; Ruonala, Raili; Kale, Liga; Albert, Victor A.; Teeri, Teemu H.; Elomaa, Paula (2014)
  • Gillespie, Joseph J.; Phan, Isabelle Q. H.; Scheib, Holger; Subramanian, Sandhya; Edwards, Thomas E.; Lehman, Stephanie S.; Piitulainen, Hanna; Rahman, M. Sayeedur; Rennoll-Bankert, Kristen E.; Staker, Bart L.; Taira, Suvi; Stacy, Robin; Myler, Peter J.; Azad, Abdu F.; Pulliainen, Arto T. (2015)
    Prokaryotes use type IV secretion systems (T4SSs) to translocate substrates (e.g., nucleoprotein, DNA, and protein) and/or elaborate surface structures (i.e., pili or adhesins). Bacterial genomes may encode multiple T4SSs, e.g., there are three functionally divergent T4SSs in some Bartonella species (vir, vbh, and trw). In a unique case, most rickettsial species encode a T4SS (rvh) enriched with gene duplication. Within single genomes, the evolutionary and functional implications of cross-system interchangeability of analogous T4SS protein components remains poorly understood. To lend insight into cross-system interchangeability, we analyzed the VirB8 family of T4SS channel proteins. Crystal structures of three VirB8 and two TrwG Bartonella proteins revealed highly conserved C-terminal periplasmic domain folds and dimerization interfaces, despite tremendous sequence divergence. This implies remarkable structural constraints for VirB8 components in the assembly of a functional T4SS. VirB8/TrwG heterodimers, determined via bacterial two-hybrid assays and molecular modeling, indicate that differential expression of trw and vir systems is the likely barrier to VirB8-TrwG interchangeability. We also determined the crystal structure of Rickettsia typhi RvhB8-II and modeled its coexpressed divergent paralog RvhB8-I. Remarkably, while RvhB8-I dimerizes and is structurally similar to other VirB8 proteins, the RvhB8-II dimer interface deviates substantially from other VirB8 structures, potentially preventing RvhB8-I/RvhB8-II heterodimerization. For the rvh T4SS, the evolution of divergent VirB8 paralogs implies a functional diversification that is unknown in other T4SSs. Collectively, our data identify two different constraints (spatio-temporal for Bartonella trw and vir T4SSs and structural for rvh T4SSs) that mediate the functionality of multiple divergent T4SSs within a single bacterium. IMPORTANCE Assembly of multiprotein complexes at the right time and at the right cellular location is a fundamentally important task for any organism. In this respect, bacteria that express multiple analogous type IV secretion systems (T4SSs), each composed of around 12 different components, face an overwhelming complexity. Our work here presents the first structural investigation on factors regulating the maintenance of multiple T4SSs within a single bacterium. The structural data imply that the T4SS-expressing bacteria rely on two strategies to prevent cross-system interchangeability: (i) tight temporal regulation of expression or (ii) rapid diversification of the T4SS components. T4SSs are ideal drug targets provided that no analogous counterparts are known from eukaryotes. Drugs targeting the barriers to cross-system interchangeability (i.e., regulators) could dysregulate the structural and functional independence of discrete systems, potentially creating interference that prevents their efficient coordination throughout bacterial infection.
  • Takala, Heikki; Edlund, Petra; Ihalainen, Janne A.; Westenhoff, Sebastian (2020)
    Phytochromes are ubiquitous photosensor proteins, which control the growth, reproduction and movement in plants, fungi and bacteria. Phytochromes switch between two photophysical states depending on the light conditions. In analogy to molecular machines, light absorption induces a series of structural changes that are transduced from the bilin chromophore, through the protein, and to the output domains. Recent progress towards understanding this structural mechanism of signal transduction has been manifold. We describe this progress with a focus on bacteriophytochromes. We describe the mechanism along three structural tiers, which are the chromophore-binding pocket, the photosensory module, and the output domains. We discuss possible interconnections between the tiers and conclude by presenting future directions and open questions. We hope that this review may serve as a compendium to guide future structural and spectroscopic studies designed to understand structural signaling in phytochromes.