Protein-protein interaction between phototaxis receptor sensory Rhodopsin I and its transducer HtrI

Kwang-Hwan Jung, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The molecular complex containing the seven transmembrane helix photoreceptor Sensory Rhodopsin I (SRI) and transducer protein HtrI (Halobacterial Transducer for SRI) mediates color-sensitive phototaxis responses in the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. Orange light causes an attractant response by a one-photon reaction and white light (orange + UV light) a repellent response by a two-photon reaction. Three aspects of SRI-HtrI structure/function and the signal transduction pathway were explored. First, the coupling of HtrI to the photoactive site of SRI was analyzed by mutagenesis and kinetic spectroscopy. Second, SRI-HtrI mutations and suppressors were selected and characterized to elucidate the color-sensing mechanism. Third, the signal relay through the transducer-bound histidine kinase was analyzed using an in vitro reconstitution system with known and newly identified taxis components. Twenty-one mutations on HtrI were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis. Several replacements of charged residues perturbed the photochemical kinetics of SRI which led to the finding of a cluster of residues at the membrane/cytoplasm interface in HtrI electrostatically coupled to the photoactive site of SRI. We found by laser-flash kinetic spectroscopy that the transducer and these residues have specific effects on the light-induced proton transfer between the retinal chromophore and the protein. One of the mutations showed an unusual mutant phenotype we called “inverted” signaling, in which the cell produces a repellent response to normally attractant light. Therefore, this mutant (E56Q of HtrI) had lost the color-discrimination by the SRI-HtrI complex. We used suppressor analysis to better understand the phenotype. Certain suppressors resulted in return of attractant responses to orange light but with inversion of the normally repellent response to white light to an attractant response. To explain this and other results, we formulated the Conformational Shuttling model in which the HtrI-SRI complex is poised in a metastable equilibrium of two conformations shifted in opposite directions by orange and white light. We tested this model by behavioral analysis (computerized cell tracking and motion study) of double mutants of inverting and suppressing mutations and the results confirmed the equilibrium-shift explanation. We developed an in vitro system for measuring the effect of purified transducer on the histidine-kinase CheAH that controls the flagellar motor switch. The rate of kinase autophosphorylation was stimulated >2 fold in the reconstitution of the complete signal transduction system from purified components from H. salinarum. The in vitro assay also showed that the kinase activity was reduced in the absence and in the presence of high levels of linker protein CheWH. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Subject Area

Microbiology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Jung, Kwang-Hwan, "Protein-protein interaction between phototaxis receptor sensory Rhodopsin I and its transducer HtrI" (1999). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9942090.