The Tsr chemosensory transducer of Escherichia coli assembles into the cytoplasmic membrane via a SecA-dependent process. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Tsr protein of Escherichia coli is a chemosensory transducer that mediates taxis toward serine and away from certain repellents. Like other bacterial transducers, Tsr spans the cytoplasmic membrane twice, forming a periplasmic domain of about 150 amino acids and a cytoplasmic domain of about 300 amino acids. The 32 N-terminal amino acids of Tsr resemble the consensus signal sequence of secreted proteins, but they are not removed from the mature protein. To investigate the function of this N-terminal sequence in the assembly process, we isolated translational fusions between tsr and the phoA and lacZ genes, which code for the periplasmic enzyme alkaline phosphatase and the cytoplasmic enzyme beta-galactosidase, respectively. All tsr-phoA fusions isolated code for proteins whose fusion joints are within the periplasmic loop of Tsr, and all of these hybrid proteins have high alkaline phosphatase activity. The most N-terminal fusion joint is at amino acid 19 of Tsr. Tsr-lacZ fusions were found throughout the tsr gene. The beta-galactosidase activity of the LacZ-fusion proteins varies greatly, depending on the location of the fusion joint. Fusions with low activity have fusion joints within the periplasmic loop of Tsr. The expression of these fusions is most likely reduced at the level of translation. In addition, one of these fusions markedly reduces the export and processing of the periplasmic maltose-binding protein and the outer membrane protein OmpA, but not of intact PhoA or of the outer membrane protein LamB. A temperature-sensitive secA mutation, causing defective protein secretion, stops expression of new alkaline phosphatase activity coded by a tsr-phoA fusion upon shifting to the nonpermissive temperature. The same secA mutation, even at the permissive temperature, increases the activity and the level of expression of LacZ fused to the periplasmic loop of Tsr relative to a secA+ strain. We conclude that the assembly of Tsr into the cytoplasmic membrane is mediated by the machinery responsible for the secretion of a subset of periplasmic and outer membrane proteins. Moreover, assembly of the Tsr protein seems to be closely coupled to its synthesis.

published proceedings

  • J Biol Chem

author list (cited authors)

  • Gebert, J. F., Overhoff, B., Manson, M. D., & Boos, W.

citation count

  • 56

complete list of authors

  • Gebert, JF||Overhoff, B||Manson, MD||Boos, W

publication date

  • January 1988