Several bacterial sensory-kinase receptors form clusters on the cell membrane. However, the dynamics of sensory-kinase clustering are largely unclear. Using measurements of fluorescence anisotropy and time-lapse imaging of Escherichia coli cells, we demonstrate that copper ions trigger self-association of BaeS receptors and lead to rapid formation of clusters, which can be reversibly dispersed by a metal chelator. Copper ions did not trigger selfassociation of other fluorescently tagged sensory kinases, and other divalent metal ions could not elicit self-association of BaeS. The histidine residues in the BaeS periplasmic domain are essential for copper binding in vitro and are important for the copper-induced BaeS responses in vivo. BaeS clustering was triggered also under conditions that directly triggered BaeS-dependent transcriptional responses. Thus, clustering of sensory kinase receptors can be dynamic and context dependent and can be triggered by specific environmental cues.
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© 2016 Koler et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.