The gene products of sll0337 and slr0081 in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 have been identified as the homologues of the Escherichia coli phosphate-sensing histidine kinase PhoR and response regulator PhoB, respectively. Interruption of sll0337, the gene encoding the histidine protein kinase, by a spectinomycin-resistance cassette blocked the induction of alkaline phosphatase activity under phosphate-limiting conditions. A similar result was obtained when slr0081, the gene encoding the response regulator, was interrupted with a cassette conferring resistance to kanamycin. In addition, the phosphate-specific transport system was not up-regulated in our mutants when phosphate was limiting. Unlike other genes for bacterial phosphate-sensing two-component systems, sll0337 and slr0081 are not present in the same operon. Although there are three assignments for putative alkaline phosphatase genes in the Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 genome, only sll0654 expression was detected by northern analysis under phosphate limitation. This gene codes for a 149 kDa protein that is homologous to the cyanobacterial alkaline phosphatase reported in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942 [Ray, J.M., Bhaya, D., Block, M.A. and Grossman, A.R. (1991) J. Bact. 173: 4297-4309]. An alignment identified a conserved 177 amino acid domain that was found at the N-terminus of the protein encoded by sll0654 but at the C-terminus of the protein in Synechococcus sp. PCC 7942.