A novel feature of the multistep phosphorelay in Escherichia coli: a revised model of the RcsC --> YojN --> RcsB signalling pathway implicated in capsular synthesis and swarming behaviour

Mol Microbiol. 2001 Apr;40(2):440-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2001.02393.x.


In this study, we re-investigated the previously characterized RcsC (sensor His-kinase) --> RcsB (response regulator) phosphorelay system that is involved in the regulation of capsular polysaccharide synthesis in Escherichia coli. The previously proposed model hypothesized the occurrence of a direct phosphotransfer from RcsC to RcsB in response to an unknown external stimulus. As judged from the current general view as to the His --> Asp phosphorelay, this RcsC --> RcsB framework is somewhat puzzling, because RcsC appears to contain both a His-kinase domain and a receiver domain, but not a histidine (His)-containing phosphotransmitter domain (e.g. HPt domain). We thus suspected that an as yet unknown mechanism might be underlying in this particular His --> Asp phosphorelay system. Here, we provide several lines of in vivo and in vitro evidence that a novel and unique His-containing phosphotransmitter (named YojN) is essential for this signalling system. A revised model is proposed in which the multistep RcsC --> YojN --> RcsB phosphorelay is implicated. It was also demonstrated that this complex signalling system is somehow involved in the modulation of a characteristic behaviour of E. coli cells during colony formation on the surface of agar plates, namely swarming.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Capsules / biosynthesis*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / physiology*
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multienzyme Complexes*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases*
  • Plasmids
  • Protein Kinases*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Culture Media
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • RcsB protein, E coli
  • Transcription Factors
  • rcsC protein, E coli
  • RcsB protein, Bacteria
  • Phosphotransferases
  • Protein Kinases
  • rcsD protein, E coli
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases

Associated data

  • SWISSPROT/P39839