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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Paradoxical enhancement of chemoreceptor detection sensitivity by a sensory adaptation enzyme

  • Author(s): Lai, R-Z
  • Han, X-S
  • Dahlquist, FW
  • Parkinson, JS
  • et al.

A sensory adaptation system that tunes chemoreceptor sensitivity enables motile Escherichia coli cells to track chemical gradients with high sensitivity over a wide dynamic range. Sensory adaptation involves feedback control of covalent receptor modifications by two enzymes: CheR, a methyltransferase, and CheB, a methylesterase. This study describes a CheR function that opposes the signaling consequences of its catalytic activity. In the presence of CheR, a variety of mutant serine chemoreceptors displayed up to 40-fold enhanced detection sensitivity to chemoeffector stimuli. This response enhancement effect did not require the known catalytic activity of CheR, but did involve a binding interaction between CheR and receptor molecules. Response enhancement was maximal at low CheR:receptor stoichiometry and quantitative analyses argued against a reversible binding interaction that simply shifts the ON-OFF equilibrium of receptor signaling complexes. Rather, a short-lived CheR binding interaction appears to promote a long-lasting change in receptor molecules, either a covalent modification or conformation that enhances their response to attractant ligands.

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