Ammonium sensing in Escherichia coli. role of the ammonium transporter AmtB and AmtB-GlnK complex formation

Arnaud Javelle, Emmanuele Severi, Jeremy Thornton, Mike Merrick

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    166 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The Amt proteins are high affinity ammonium transporters that are conserved in all domains of life. In bacteria and archaea the Amt structural genes (amtB) are invariably linked to glnK, which encodes a member of the P(II) signal transduction protein family, proteins that regulate many facets of nitrogen metabolism. We have now shown that Escherichia coli AmtB is inactivated by formation of a membrane-bound complex with GlnK. Complex formation is reversible and occurs within seconds in response to micromolar changes in the extracellular ammonium concentration. Regulation is mediated by the uridylylation/deuridylylation of GlnK in direct response to fluctuations in the intracellular glutamine pool. Furthermore under physiological conditions AmtB activity is required for GlnK deuridylylation. Hence the transporter is an integral part of the signal transduction cascade, and AmtB can be formally considered to act as an ammonium sensor. This system provides an exquisitely sensitive mechanism to control ammonium flux into the cell, and the conservation of glnK linkage to amtB suggests that this regulatory mechanism may occur throughout prokaryotes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8530-8
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
    Volume279
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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