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Chapter 5 : Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria

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Abstract:

Enteric bacteria such as , , and their relatives regulate the expression of glutamine synthetase (GS) and other enzymes important in nitrogen assimilation in response to changes in the availability of nitrogen. In this review, the current state of knowledge about the mechanisms of signal transduction by NR and NR is summarized briefly. and related bacteria precisely regulate the level of GS activity by three distinct mechanisms. First, the intracellular concentration of the enzyme is regulated in response to the intracellular nitrogen status. Second, the activity of the enzyme is regulated by reversible covalent modification. Finally, the activity of GS is allosterically controlled by cumulative feedback inhibition by eight small molecules: tryptophan, histidine, carbamyl phosphate, glucosamine-6-phosphate, CTP, AMP, alanine, and glycine. A hypothesis to explain the different phenotypes resulting from the suppressor mutations in is as follows: the suppressors resulting in the constitutive expression of are likely to have either eliminated the capacity of NR to interact with P or rendered this interaction unproductive in bringing about the regulated phosphatase activity. The authors examined the ability of partially modified P to elicit the regulated phosphatase activity and found that it was partially active. They also examined the ability of immobilized NR to retain P, using a column chromatography method.

Citation: Ninfa A, Atkinson M, Kamberov E, Feng J, Ninfa E. 1995. Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria, p 67-88. In Hoch J, Silhavy T (ed), Two-Component Signal Transduction. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818319.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Signal transduction system controlling activity of glutamine synthetase and transcription of the Ntr regulon. Abbreviations: GLN, glutamine; 2KG, 2-ketoglutarate. The small molecules activating reactions are shown without boxes, and the small molecules inhibiting reactions are shown in boxes. The figure is similar to Fig. 1 of and , submitted).

Citation: Ninfa A, Atkinson M, Kamberov E, Feng J, Ninfa E. 1995. Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria, p 67-88. In Hoch J, Silhavy T (ed), Two-Component Signal Transduction. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818319.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

Composite nitrogen regulatory cascade from , , and . In this figure, the activation of nitrogen-regulated genes is depicted as a developmental pathway. Only a few examples of nitrogen-regulated genes and operons are shown. At the top of the cascade is the operon ( operon), which is activated by a low intracellular concentration of NR∼P. NR and/or acetyl phosphate can give rise to NR∼P by phosphotransfer to NR. NR + P result in the destruction of NR∼P (regulated phosphatase activity). One product of the operon is GS. Another result of the activation of the operon is an increase in the intracellular concentration of NR. An elevated intracellular concentration of NR∼P results in the activation of genes and operons at the second level of the cascade. For example, the (glutamine transport) and (arginine use) genes of are among the Ntr operons so controlled. In other cases, the elevated intracellular concentration of NR results in the activation of genes encoding transcription factors. The gene product, NAC, activates (proline use), (histidine use), and genes encoding urease and represses its own expression and the expression of (glutamate dehydrogenase). The operon of encodes the activator of gene expression, NifA, and a regulator of NifA activity, NifL. NifA activates transcription of the genes, which encode nitrogenase and associated proteins required for the assimilation of N.

Citation: Ninfa A, Atkinson M, Kamberov E, Feng J, Ninfa E. 1995. Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria, p 67-88. In Hoch J, Silhavy T (ed), Two-Component Signal Transduction. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818319.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 3
FIGURE 3

Pathways for the formation and breakdown of acetyl phosphate. The gene encodes the enzyme phosphotransacetylase, and the gene encodes the enzyme acetate kinase.

Citation: Ninfa A, Atkinson M, Kamberov E, Feng J, Ninfa E. 1995. Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria, p 67-88. In Hoch J, Silhavy T (ed), Two-Component Signal Transduction. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818319.ch5
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Image of FIGURE 4
FIGURE 4

Mutations in , encoding NR. (A) Schematic depiction of the NRn protein. The nonconserved N-terminal domain is shown as a thin line, and the conserved histidine kinase-phosphatase domain is shown as a thick line. Within this conserved domain, three highly conserved regions are found, depicted with crosshatching and referred to here as region 1, region 2, and region 3. The consensus sequence for the highly conserved regions are shown. The standard single letter amino acid code is used with the following exceptions: X refers to positions where at least 50% of the family have a nonpolar amino acid (I, L, M, or V), Z refers to positions where at least 50% of the family have a polar amino acid (A, G, P, S, or T),J refers to positions where at least 50% of the family have a basic amino acid (H, K, or R), and O refers to positions where at least 50% of the family have an acidic or amidic amino acid (D, E, N, or Q). Positions with less than 50% conservation among the kinase family are shown by dashes. Positions at which mutations were introduced by site-specific mutagenesis are indicated by arrowheads. For a more complete description of the conservation in the kinase family, see . Adapted from Fig. 5 of with permission and has also appeared in . (B) Mutational analysis of the highly conserved regions of NR. The identities of the alterations made are shown. The phenotypes resulting from these changes are summarized in the text and in . (C) Alterations in NRn resulting from the introduction of nonsense codons or small deletions, ter refers to termination codons. 307 refers to the deletion of codon 307, while 307–311 refers to deletion of codons 307 to 311. (D) Mutations selected as suppressors of the Ntr phenotype resulting from the ::Tn mutation. B, C, and D are reproduced from Fig. 2 of .

Citation: Ninfa A, Atkinson M, Kamberov E, Feng J, Ninfa E. 1995. Control of Nitrogen Assimilation by the NR-NR Two-Component System of Enteric Bacteria, p 67-88. In Hoch J, Silhavy T (ed), Two-Component Signal Transduction. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818319.ch5
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