Multistate allostery in response regulators: Phosphorylation and mutagenesis activate RegA via alternate modes

Balakrishnan Shenbaga Moorthy, Ganesh S. Anand

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11 Scopus citations


Response regulators (RRs) belong to two-component signaling pathways, widely prevalent in bacteria and lower eukaryotes, for sensing and mediating responses to diverse environmental stress stimuli. RRs are modular proteins, and in most instances, a receiver domain is found connected to diverse effector domain(s). All receiver domains contain a conserved aspartate, which is the site of phosphorylation by an associated histidine kinase. RRs function as phosphorylatable signaling switches whereby histidine-kinase-mediated phosphorylation of RRs alters its output function. It is largely unknown how phosphorylation of the receiver domain triggers activation of distally positioned effector domain(s). Although crystal structures have highlighted differences in conformations from comparisons of snapshots of the unphosphorylated and phosphorylated receiver domains, how this is translated into altered activity of a distal effector domain has remained a mystery. While allosteric relays have been identified within receiver domains by NMR and X-ray crystallography, phosphorylated states of larger multidomain RRs have not yet been characterized. In this study, we have used amide hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry to probe the conformational dynamics of a multidomain RR, RegA from Dictyostelium discoideum, by comparisons of the unphosphorylated and phosphorylated states and an activating mutant. Our results reveal allosteric coupling between the site of phosphorylation and the activating mutation. Interestingly, however, the conformations of the effector domains in both instances are distinct. Hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry indicates that the 'inactive' and 'active' conformations exist as ensembles of multiple conformations. This is consistent with the 'conformational selection' model for describing phosphorylation-dependent regulation of multidomain RRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-487
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 13 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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