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Open Access Research article

A predictive computational model of the kinetic mechanism of stimulus-induced transducer methylation and feedback regulation through CheY in archaeal phototaxis and chemotaxis

Stefan Streif12*, Dieter Oesterhelt2 and Wolfgang Marwan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Molecular Network Analysis Group, Sandtorstr. 1, 39106 Magdeburg, Germany

2 Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Department of Membrane Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152 Martinsried, Germany

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BMC Systems Biology 2010, 4:27  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-27

Published: 18 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Photo- and chemotaxis of the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum is based on the control of flagellar motor switching through stimulus-specific methyl-accepting transducer proteins that relay the sensory input signal to a two-component system. Certain members of the transducer family function as receptor proteins by directly sensing specific chemical or physical stimuli. Others interact with specific receptor proteins like the phototaxis photoreceptors sensory rhodopsin I and II, or require specific binding proteins as for example some chemotaxis transducers. Receptor activation by light or a change in receptor occupancy by chemical stimuli results in reversible methylation of glutamate residues of the transducer proteins. Both, methylation and demethylation reactions are involved in sensory adaptation and are modulated by the response regulator CheY.

Results

By mathematical modeling we infer the kinetic mechanisms of stimulus-induced transducer methylation and adaptation. The model (deterministic and in the form of ordinary differential equations) correctly predicts experimentally observed transducer demethylation (as detected by released methanol) in response to attractant and repellent stimuli of wildtype cells, a cheY deletion mutant, and a mutant in which the stimulated transducer species is methylation-deficient.

Conclusions

We provide a kinetic model for signal processing in photo- and chemotaxis in the archaeon H. salinarum suggesting an essential role of receptor cooperativity, antagonistic reversible methylation, and a CheY-dependent feedback on transducer demethylation.