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Free Content The hprK gene of Enterococcus faecalis encodes a novel bifunctional enzyme: the HPr kinase/phosphatase

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The HPr kinase of Gram-positive bacteria is an ATP-dependent serine protein kinase, which phosphorylates the HPr protein of the bacterial phosphotransferase system (PTS) and is involved in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism. The hprK gene from Enterococcus faecalis was cloned via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced. The deduced amino acid sequence was confirmed by microscale Edman degradation and mass spectrometry combined with collision-induced dissociation of tryptic peptides derived from the HPr kinase of E. faecalis. The gene was overexpressed in Escherichia coli, which does not contain any ATP-dependent HPr kinase or phosphatase activity. The homogeneous recombinant protein exhibits the expected HPr kinase activity as well as a P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activity, which was assumed to be a separate enzyme activity. The bifunctional HPr kinase/phosphatase acts preferentially as a kinase at high ATP levels of 2 mM occurring in glucose-metabolizing Streptococci. At low ATP levels, the enzyme hydrolyses P-Ser-HPr. In addition, high concentrations of phosphate present under starvation conditions inhibit the HPr kinase activity. Thus, a putative function of the enzyme may be to adjust the ratio of HPr and P-Ser-HPr according to the metabolic state of the cell; P-Ser-HPr is involved in carbon catabolite repression and regulates sugar uptake via the phosphotransferase system (PTS). Reinvestigation of the previously described Bacillus subtilis HPr kinase revealed that it also possesses P-Ser-HPr phosphatase activity. However, contrary to the E. faecalis enzyme, ATP alone was not sufficient to switch the phosphatase activity of the B. subtilis enzyme to the kinase activity. A change in activity of the B. subtilis HPr kinase was only observed when fructose-1,6-bisphosphate was also present.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Physiologie der Mikroorganismen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, NDEF 06, D-44780 Bochum, Germany., 2: Laboratoire de Génétique des Microorganismes, INRA-CNRS, F-78330 Thiverval-Grignon, France., 3: Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Abteilung Biochemie supramolekularer Systeme, Proteinstruktabor, MA 2/143, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, D-44780 Bochum, Germany., 4: Zentrum für molekulare Biologie, Universität Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 282, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany., 5: Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, Mereside, Alderley Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire SK10 4TG, UK.

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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