Salmonellae PhoQ is a histidine kinase with a periplasmic sensor domain (PD) that promotes virulence by detecting the macrophage phagosome. PhoQ activity is repressed by divalent cations and induced in environments of acidic pH, limited divalent cations, and cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMP). Previously, it was unclear which signals are sensed by salmonellae to promote PhoQ-mediated virulence. We defined conformational changes produced in the PhoQ PD on exposure to acidic pH that indicate structural flexibility is induced in α-helices 4 and 5, suggesting this region contributes to pH sensing. Therefore, we engineered a disulfide bond between W104C and A128C in the PhoQ PD that restrains conformational flexibility in α-helices 4 and 5. PhoQW104C-A128C is responsive to CAMP, but is inhibited for activation by acidic pH and divalent cation limitation. phoQW104C-A128C Salmonella enterica Typhimurium are virulent in mice, indicating that acidic pH and divalent cation sensing by PhoQ are dispensable for virulence.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocol (2982-02) of the University of Washington.
- Feng Shao, National Institute of Biological Sciences, China
© 2015, Hicks et al.
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The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum synthesizes significant amounts of phospholipids to meet the demands of replication within red blood cells. De novo phosphatidylcholine (PC) biosynthesis via the Kennedy pathway is essential, requiring choline that is primarily sourced from host serum lysophosphatidylcholine (lysoPC). LysoPC also acts as an environmental sensor to regulate parasite sexual differentiation. Despite these critical roles for host lysoPC, the enzyme(s) involved in its breakdown to free choline for PC synthesis are unknown. Here, we show that a parasite glycerophosphodiesterase (PfGDPD) is indispensable for blood stage parasite proliferation. Exogenous choline rescues growth of PfGDPD-null parasites, directly linking PfGDPD function to choline incorporation. Genetic ablation of PfGDPD reduces choline uptake from lysoPC, resulting in depletion of several PC species in the parasite, whilst purified PfGDPD releases choline from glycerophosphocholine in vitro. Our results identify PfGDPD as a choline-releasing glycerophosphodiesterase that mediates a critical step in PC biosynthesis and parasite survival.
Ferroportin (Fpn) is a transporter that releases ferrous ion (Fe2+) from cells and is important for homeostasis of iron in circulation. Export of one Fe2+ by Fpn is coupled to import of two H+ to maintain charge balance. Here, we show that human Fpn (HsFpn) binds to and mediates Ca2+ transport. We determine the structure of Ca2+-bound HsFpn and identify a single Ca2+ binding site distinct from the Fe2+ binding sites. Further studies validate the Ca2+ binding site and show that Ca2+ transport is not coupled to transport of another ion. In addition, Ca2+ transport is significantly inhibited in the presence of Fe2+ but not vice versa. Function of Fpn as a Ca2+ uniporter may allow regulation of iron homeostasis by Ca2+.