Model of maltose-binding protein/chemoreceptor complex supports intrasubunit signaling mechanism. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Tar protein of Escherichia coli is unique among known bacterial chemoreceptors in that it generates additive responses to two very disparate ligands, aspartate and maltose. Aspartate binds directly to the periplasmic (extracytoplasmic) domain of Tar. Maltose first binds to maltose-binding protein (MBP). MBP then assumes a closed conformation in which it can interact with the periplasmic domain of Tar. MBP residues critical for binding Tar were identified in a screen of mutations that cause specific defects in maltose chemotaxis. Mutations were introduced into a plasmid-borne malE gene that encodes a mutant form of MBP in which two engineered Cys residues spontaneously generate a disulfide bond in the oxidizing environment of the periplasmic space. This disulfide covalently crosslinks the NH3-terminal and COOH-terminal domains of MBP and locks the protein into a closed conformation. Double-Cys MBP confers a dominant-negative phenotype for maltose taxis, and we reasoned that third mutations that relieve this negative dominance probably alter residues that are important for the initial interaction of MBP with Tar. The published three-dimensional structures of MBP and the periplasmic domain of E. coli Tar were docked in a computer simulation that juxtaposed the residues in MBP identified in this way with residues in Tar that have been implicated in maltose taxis. The resulting model of the MBP-Tar complex exhibits good complementarity between the surfaces of the two proteins and supports the idea that aspartate and MBP may each initiate an attractant signal through Tar by inducing similar conformational changes in the chemoreceptor.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., Gardina, P. J., Kuebler, A. S., Kang, H. S., Christopher, J. A., & Manson, M. D.

citation count

  • 67

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Y||Gardina, PJ||Kuebler, AS||Kang, HS||Christopher, JA||Manson, MD

publication date

  • February 1999