Transmembrane signaling proteins couple extracytosolic sensors to cytosolic effectors. Here, we examine how binding of Mg2+ to the sensor domain of an E. coli two component histidine kinase (HK), PhoQ, modulates its cytoplasmic kinase domain. We use cysteine-crosslinking and reporter-gene assays to simultaneously and independently probe the signaling state of PhoQ's sensor and autokinase domains in a set of over 30 mutants. Strikingly, conservative single-site mutations distant from the sensor or catalytic site strongly influence PhoQ's ligand-sensitivity as well as the magnitude and direction of the signal. Data from 35 mutants are explained by a semi-empirical three-domain model in which the sensor, intervening HAMP, and catalytic domains can adopt kinase-promoting or inhibiting conformations that are in allosteric communication. The catalytic and sensor domains intrinsically favor a constitutively 'kinase-on' conformation, while the HAMP domain favors the 'off' state; when coupled, they create a bistable system responsive to physiological concentrations of Mg2+. Mutations alter signaling by locally modulating domain intrinsic equilibrium constants and interdomain couplings. Our model suggests signals transmit via interdomain allostery rather than propagation of a single concerted conformational change, explaining the diversity of signaling structural transitions observed in individual HK domains.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting file; Source data files have been provided for Figure 8. All source code for modeling work is provided as source code files 1-5.
- Bruk Mensa
- Nicholas F Polizzi
- Andrew M Natale
- Thomas Lemmin
- William F DeGrado
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Michael T Laub, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
© 2021, Mensa et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Serine(S)/threonine(T)-glutamine(Q) cluster domains (SCDs), polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts and polyglutamine/asparagine (polyQ/N) tracts are Q-rich motifs found in many proteins. SCDs often are intrinsically disordered regions that mediate protein phosphorylation and protein-protein interactions. PolyQ and polyQ/N tracts are structurally flexible sequences that trigger protein aggregation. We report that due to their high percentages of STQ or STQN amino acid content, four SCDs and three prion-causing Q/N-rich motifs of yeast proteins possess autonomous protein expression-enhancing activities. Since these Q-rich motifs can endow proteins with structural and functional plasticity, we suggest that they represent useful toolkits for evolutionary novelty. Comparative Gene Ontology (GO) analyses of the near-complete proteomes of 26 representative model eukaryotes reveal that Q-rich motifs prevail in proteins involved in specialized biological processes, including Saccharomyces cerevisiae RNA-mediated transposition and pseudohyphal growth, Candida albicans filamentous growth, ciliate peptidyl-glutamic acid modification and microtubule-based movement, Tetrahymena thermophila xylan catabolism and meiosis, Dictyostelium discoideum development and sexual cycles, Plasmodium falciparum infection, and the nervous systems of Drosophila melanogaster, Mus musculus and Homo sapiens. We also show that Q-rich-motif proteins are expanded massively in 10 ciliates with reassigned TAAQ and TAGQ codons. Notably, the usage frequency of CAGQ is much lower in ciliates with reassigned TAAQ and TAGQ codons than in organisms with expanded and unstable Q runs (e.g. D. melanogaster and H. sapiens), indicating that the use of noncanonical stop codons in ciliates may have coevolved with codon usage biases to avoid triplet repeat disorders mediated by CAG/GTC replication slippage.
Fetal growth restriction (FGR) is a pregnancy complication in which a newborn fails to achieve its growth potential, increasing the risk of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Chronic maternal gestational hypoxia, as well as placental insufficiency are associated with increased FGR incidence; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying FGR remain unknown.
Pregnant mice were subjected to acute or chronic hypoxia (12.5% O2) resulting in reduced fetal weight. Placenta oxygen transport was assessed by blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The placentae were analyzed via immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Human placentae were selected from FGR and matched controls and analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Maternal and cord sera were analyzed by mass spectrometry.
We show that murine acute and chronic gestational hypoxia recapitulates FGR phenotype and affects placental structure and morphology. Gestational hypoxia decreased labyrinth area, increased the incidence of red blood cells (RBCs) in the labyrinth while expanding the placental spiral arteries (SpA) diameter. Hypoxic placentae exhibited higher hemoglobin-oxygen affinity compared to the control. Placental abundance of Bisphosphoglycerate mutase (BPGM) was upregulated in the syncytiotrophoblast and spiral artery trophoblast cells (SpA TGCs) in the murine gestational hypoxia groups compared to the control. Hif1α levels were higher in the acute hypoxia group compared to the control. In contrast, human FGR placentae exhibited reduced BPGM levels in the syncytiotrophoblast layer compared to placentae from healthy uncomplicated pregnancies. Levels of 2,3 BPG, the product of BPGM, were lower in cord serum of human FGR placentae compared to control. Polar expression of BPGM was found in both human and mouse placentae syncytiotrophoblast, with higher expression facing the maternal circulation. Moreover, in the murine SpA TGCs expression of BPGM was concentrated exclusively in the apical cell side, in direct proximity to the maternal circulation.
This study suggests a possible involvement of placental BPGM in maternal-fetal oxygen transfer, and in the pathophysiology of FGR.
This work was supported by the Weizmann Krenter Foundation and the Weizmann – Ichilov (Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center) Collaborative Grant in Biomedical Research, by the Minerva Foundation, by the ISF KillCorona grant 3777/19.