A novel membrane anchor function for the N-terminal amphipathic sequence of the signal-transducing protein IIAGlucose of the Escherichia coli phosphotransferase system

J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 22;275(51):39811-4. doi: 10.1074/jbc.C000709200.


Enzyme IIA(Glucose) (IIA(Glc)) is a signal-transducing protein in the phosphotransferase system of Escherichia coli. Structural studies of free IIA(Glc) and the HPr-IIA(Glc) complex have shown that IIA(Glc) comprises a globular beta-sheet sandwich core (residues 19-168) and a disordered N-terminal tail (residues 1-18). Although the presence of the N-terminal tail is not required for IIA(Glc) to accept a phosphorus from the histidine phosphocarrier protein HPr, its presence is essential for effective phosphotransfer from IIA(Glc) to the membrane-bound IIBC(Glc). The sequence of the N-terminal tail suggests that it has the potential to form an amphipathic helix. Using CD, we demonstrate that a peptide, corresponding to the N-terminal 18 residues of IIA(Glc), adopts a helical conformation in the presence of either the anionic lipid phosphatidylglycerol or a mixture of anionic E. coli lipids phosphatidylglycerol (25%) and phosphatidylethanolamine (75%). The peptide, however, is in a random coil state in the presence of the zwitterionic lipid phosphatidylcholine, indicating that electrostatic interactions play a role in the binding of the lipid to the peptide. In addition, we show that intact IIA(Glc) also interacts with anionic lipids, resulting in an increase in helicity, which can be directly attributed to the N-terminal segment. From these data we propose that IIA(Glc) comprises two functional domains: a folded domain containing the active site and capable of weakly interacting with the peripheral IIB domain of the membrane protein IIBC(Glc); and the N-terminal tail, which interacts with the negatively charged E. coli membrane, thereby stabilizing the complex of IIA(Glc) with IIBC(Glc). This stabilization is essential for the final step of the phosphoryl transfer cascade in the glucose transport pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / chemistry
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • crr protein, E coli
  • Phosphoenolpyruvate Sugar Phosphotransferase System