Oxyanion binding alters conformation and quaternary structure of the c-terminal domain of the transcriptional regulator mode. Implications for molybdate-dependent regulation, signaling, storage, and transport

J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 8;276(23):20641-7. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M100919200. Epub 2001 Mar 20.


The molybdate-dependent transcriptional regulator ModE of Escherichia coli functions as a sensor of intracellular molybdate concentration and a regulator for the transcription of several operons that control the uptake and utilization of molybdenum. We present two high-resolution crystal structures of the C-terminal oxyanion-binding domain in complex with molybdate and tungstate. The ligands bind between subunits at the dimerization interface, and analysis reveals that oxyanion selectivity is determined primarily by size. The relevance of the structures is indicated by fluorescence measurements, which show that the oxyanion binding properties of the C-terminal domain of ModE are similar to those of the full-length protein. Comparisons with the apoprotein structure have identified structural rearrangements that occur on binding oxyanion. This molybdate-dependent conformational switch promotes a change in shape and alterations to the surface of the protein and may provide the signal for recruitment of other proteins to construct the machinery for transcription. Sequence and structure-based comparisons lead to a classification of molybdate-binding proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Primers
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molybdenum / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • Protein Transport
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tungsten Compounds / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • ModE protein, E coli
  • ModE protein, bacteria
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tungsten Compounds
  • molybdate
  • Molybdenum
  • tungstate

Associated data

  • PDB/1H9R
  • PDB/1H9S