The Sensory Histidine Kinases TorS and EvgS Tend to Form Clusters in Escherichia coli Cells

Erik Sommer, Moriah Koler, Vered Frank, Victor Sourjik*, Ady Vaknin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Microorganisms use multiple two-component sensory systems to detect changes in their environment and elicit physiological responses. Despite their wide spread and importance, the intracellular organization of two-component sensory proteins in bacteria remains little investigated. A notable exception is the well-studied clustering of the chemoreceptor-kinase complexes that mediate chemotaxis behaviour. However, these chemosensory complexes differ fundamentally from other systems, both structurally and functionally. Therefore, studying the organization of typical sensory kinases in bacteria is essential for understanding the general role of receptor clustering in bacterial sensory signalling. Here, by studying mYFP-tagged sensory kinases in Escherichia coli, we show that the tagged TorS and EvgS sensors have a clear tendency for self-association and clustering. These sensors clustered even when expressed at a level of a few hundred copies per cell. Moreover, the mYFP-tagged response regulator TorR showed clear TorS-dependent clustering, indicating that untagged TorS sensors also tend to form clusters. We also provide evidence for the functionality of these tagged sensors. Experiments with truncated TorS or EvgS proteins suggested that clustering of EvgS sensors depends on the cytoplasmic part of the protein, whereas clustering of TorS sensors can be potentially mediated by the periplasmic/transmembrane domain. Overall, these findings support the notion that sensor clustering plays a role in bacterial sensory signalling beyond chemotaxis.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere77708
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 11 Oct 2013


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